October is a beautiful, colorful month here in the Northeast, but also a month of reckoning for Nassau County homeowners, because it’s when they receive their 1st Half School Tax bills for the 2023/24 tax year. Getting one of these bills can be a bit of a shock, because School Taxes represent such a big chunk (more than 60 percent) of your overall property tax burden, and, as most of us know, Nassau County has the dubious distinction of being one of 11 counties in the U.S. where median annual property tax payments exceed $10,000.
How Nassau County School Districts Raise Money
School districts derive a significant portion of their operating revenue from school tax levies. For example, the Farmingdale School District receives 71 percent of its revenue from local Property Taxes and PILOT (Payments in Lieu of Taxes), 23 percent from State Aid, and 4 percent from variable, miscellaneous sources.
Since 2013, school districts, by state law, cannot raise their tax levy revenue increases by more than 2 percent a year unless local voters, by supermajority, decide to do so. On average, in recent years Nassau County school districts have kept these increases at or around the 2 percent cap limit. For the 2023/24 school year, the predicted average county-wide levy increase is 2.2 percent, but exceptions abound, because each district can increase levies beyond the cap if local voters give their OK.
To determine the amount of your own school district’s tax levy increase, the following excellent web page, maintained by News 12 New York, breaks down increases by school district: https://longisland.news12.com/projects/long-island-school-vote-2023. This page also contains direct links to each school district where detailed budget information for each district is available. While perusing this information isn’t going to help you pay your School Tax bill in November, at least you’ll fully understand how your money is being spent.
We all want quality schools in Nassau County but it’s reasonable to ask whether there might be better ways to finance Nassau County’s sprawling public education system than compelling homeowners (who may or may not have children attending school) to shoulder such a large part of the financial burden. As recently as 2020, former State Senator John E. Brooks introduced a plan to change the funding formula for schools in New York State to be less reliant on local residential property tax revenues, but his plan was sidelined due to the COVID-19 emergency.
Taking Advantage of STAR (School Tax Assessment Relief)
New York State law does make provisions for a measure of relief from high school tax levies through its STAR (School Tax Assessment Relief) program. The logic behind STAR is that it’s not fair to ask those who are not direct beneficiaries of the school system (for example, seniors with no children in the household) to pay a lot for educational school services they’ll never use.
Two types of STAR exemptions are in place: Basic STAR, available to all owner-occupants of primary residences, and Enhanced STAR, which is available to occupants of primary residences who are age 65 and older. Each has their own income eligibility requirements. Detailed information about both STAR and Enhanced STAR is available on the website of New York’s Taxation and Finance Department.
The Reassessment Phase-In Act of 2020 is Phasing Out
Back in 2020, Nassau County Legislature passed the Reassessment Phase-In Act of 2020 (RPIA) formerly known as the Taxpayer Protection Plan, which provided a five-year phase in for changes to a homeowner’s assessed value caused by the countywide reassessment. Without it, about half of Nassau County homeowners whose assessed property values increased would have faced significantly increased tax liability. Homeowners began seeing the effect of the RPIA in their school tax bill in October 2020, and in their general tax bill in January 2021.
|Tax Year||Exemption Base||Applicable Percentage||Exemption Amount|
|2024/25||150||0%||0 (No exemption)|
As you can see from the table above, the 5-year phase-in exemption has nearly run its course. Unfortunately, that means that your property tax bill will be a bit higher than in years past. That’s not great news (but it is another great reason for you to choose Maidenbaum – the leader in property tax reduction – to handle your own tax challenge).
Even The Nassau County Comptroller Said It: It Pays to Grieve!
You have to be a bona fide expert with finances to rise to the level of County Comptroller, so it’s notable (but not surprising) that Nassau County Comptroller Elaine Phillips is strongly advising residents to grieve their property tax assessments. As reported in the LI Herald, at a recent Franklin Square Civic Association meeting, after Ms. Philips explained the advantages of grieving, she remarked that “the moral of the story is: grieve your taxes. Because if you don’t, your neighbor is.”
We couldn’t agree more. There’s no better single way to keep your home ownership costs under control than to grieve your property tax assessments each and every year.
We hope you’ll choose Maidenbaum to represent you in your own tax challenge – authorizing us takes just a few minutes and we’ll keep you “in the loop” through our new client portal so you’ll always be aware of the status of your challenge as it moves through the system. If you’d like to sign up or simply learn more about how the process works, please contact us today via our website or by phone at 516-336-8622. Don’t miss out on your chance to save!