In a recent “Long Island Home” podcast whose topic was Nassau County’s recent extension of the 2023/24 tax grievance filing deadline to May 2, 2022, Maidenbaum’s Property Tax Supervisor John P. Frascella channeled the spirit of Ben Franklin, who famously advised that one should “never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.” John’s advice to Nassau County homeowners was elegantly simple: “you don’t want to wait until the last minute to file your grievance.”
In other words, just because the County has granted you more time doesn’t mean that you should procrastinate.
The podcast, posted on February 18th, touched on other issues related to the tax grievance process in Nassau County, including the folly of individuals thinking that it’s an effective tactic to file one’s grievance on a “pro se” basis. Mr. Frascella noted that taxpayers often make serious and costly mistakes while doing so, especially with respect to using the wrong evidence to substantiate their claims that their residential properties are being overvalued by Nassau County’s Department of Assessment.
Why Pro Se Grievance Filing is Risky
It’s not hard to understand why pro se filers often choose the wrong evidence to submit, given that few understand the intricacies of the County’s AROW (Assessment Review on the Web) software tool, including the way it weighs all the various variables associated with producing an estimate of your property’s worth. These variables include “comps” (comparable properties against which your assessment is compared) along with lesser-known but material variables such as: land size, home style, number of bath fixtures, the presence/absence of pools, wood decks, and porches, and neighborhood characteristics such as traffic levels in the street nearest your property.
Additionally, taxpayers often do not understand that if the County makes a settlement offer which – because it is unsatisfactory – is rejected by the taxpayer, that individual taxpayer must then represent themselves in court in what is known as a SCAR (Small Claims Assessment Review) proceeding, a time-consuming and challenging process for those without legal knowledge. “That’s a big roadblock and not too many people have the time to do that or want to put together a case for that. For most, it’s a complete waste of time,” said Mr. Frascella.
Time is Money (and Opportunity Costs Are Real)
As Ben Franklin so astutely observed, “time is money.” While opportunity costs are invisible – you’ll never receive a receipt or itemized statement listing them – they are nonetheless real and should be factored in to the “file pro se or not” question. Those considering a pro se tax challenge should carefully consider the hidden opportunity costs of doing so. Let’s say you’re a professional making $60 an hour and filing a pro se grievance takes you six hours: that’s an opportunity cost of $360. Those making more will obviously pay more of these hidden costs.
To avoid all of these hassles, hazards, and opportunity costs, Mr. Frascella recommends that taxpayers let an experienced tax grievance company such as Maidenbaum handle one’s grievance. He stressed that doing this is easier than ever because all of the paperwork can be accomplished electronically. “We have an e-form, where you click on a link that is specifically for your property, it’s totally protected; you sign it online with your iPhone or Android device, you hit the terms and conditions, and you shoot it over to us. And you get the confirmation from the system immediately. So it’s really fast and easy to do it with us.”
Maidenbaum is Ready (Even if You’re a Procrastinator)
While Mr. Frascella’s advice not to procrastinate is sound, he did mention that Maidenbaum is ready to take on your grievance even if you wait until the last minute. “Last year, (the grievance filing deadline) also got extended, and we were getting people up until twelve o’clock on the day (of the deadline), so we’ll take it all the way to the wire if we need to on your behalf.”
If you’d like to learn more about how Maidenbaum can help you achieve a property tax reduction, give us a call at 516-336-8622. Our staff can assist you with the grievance process (in both English and Spanish).
Ready to get started? Click here to authorize us to file a property tax grievance on your behalf.