No Matter. You're Being Taxed Like It Was 2007
The Nassau County Assessor says that the assessment system is "essentially fair." [Click HERE to read the Assessor's Report.]
Essentially fair? To whom?
Technically, the Assessor is correct, at least in finding that the assessment is accurate, the filing of grievances and the millions in refunds notwithstanding.
Politically, standing by the current system is tantamount to telling the public that cod liver oil is good for them. It may well work, but it leaves an awfully bad taste in your mouth.
Well, that's what happens when you rely upon a regressive tax to fund schools and local services, rather than to raise money progressively (through, dare we say, an income tax).
Okay. Been there. Suggested that. Obviously, we'd rather keep paying a King's ransom than make a course correction, establishing a nominal county income tax, or better still, demanding that Albany give Long Island back more than the 25 cents we get for every income tax dollar we give to the State.
But we digress...
Forget the debate over whether properties should be reassessed annually. They should.
Never mind that property tax refunds are years behind. They are.
Leave aside the ridiculous comments of the likes of Nassau County Legislator Peter "full of" Schmitt, who said of the Assessor's findings, its "a very thick report filled with not very much."
Yeah, Peter, much like your head!
Here's what really hits you in the pocketbook in these most trying of financial times, when most of us are simply delighted if we can just make ends meet:
NASSAU COUNTY HOMEOWNERS ARE PAYING PROPERTY TAXES (2008-09 school; 2009 county/town) BASED ON WHAT THEIR PROPERTIES WERE VALUED AT IN JANUARY, 2007!
Don't take our word for it. Search your own property at www.mynassauproperty.com (click on property search), and its all there for you, in black and white.
Here's a representative sample for a typical Nassau County single family house as taken from the county's own database:
School ('08-09) and County/Town '09'
Adjusted Market Value -- $620,400, based on January, 2007 assessment
School ('09-10) and County/Town '10'
Adjusted Market Value -- $556,400, based on January, 2008 assessment
School ('10-11) and County/Town '11'
Adjusted Market Value -- $490,300, based on January, 2009 assessment
The math is easy here, folks.
Although this house is valued at $490,300 in today's market, as per the most recent assessment, the poor (literally) homeowner is paying property taxes based on $620,400, the adjusted market value of the house as assessed in January, 2007.
What's wrong with that, ladies and gents? Just about everything.
Sample homeowner is paying property taxes on a house valued some $130,000 more than the house is worth on today's market. And he won't catch up until 2011, maybe.
Well, it will all equal out, given the ups and downs of the real estate market. Perhaps. Perhaps not. That's not the point. Homeowners, faced with assessment at market value (as opposed to the old 1938 formula), should be paying current property taxes based on their homes' present value, not upon what it was assessed at more than two years ago.
If we're going to have a full market value (or adjusted market value) system, it must be fair and equitable in its application.
The way the assessment/taxation system works -- or does not work -- today is completely capricious.
Sure, house values in Nassau County have dropped in value since 2007, some most dramatically. So why are we paying property taxes based on what our houses were worth in 2007?
That's a question we should all be asking our County Executive, County Legislators, and County Assessor.
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Caveat: Set the assessed value at today's market value, and taxing authorities, from Sanitary Districts to School Districts, Towns to Counties, will simply raise the tax rates to secure the needed tax levies. Your actual tax savings, if any, would likely be negligible.
The real, common sense solutions to this most taxing problem? Consolidation, elimination, and more than a nominal effort to stop spending money that the state, the counties, the towns, the school districts, the special districts, and -- last, but certainly not least -- the homeowners, simply do not have!