Why Filing a Pro Se Tax Grievance is Fool’s Gold

January marks the beginning of “grievance season” in Nassau County – that critical 2-month window of time when homeowners can file grievances protesting their property tax assessments. This year’s season kicked off on January 2, 2020; it will last until March 2, 2020 (last year, the filing deadline was extended to May but that was an accommodation due to the recently completed reassessment and is unlikely to be repeated).

If you decide to have Maidenbaum represent you in your grievance, you can rest easy during grievance season – we’ll handle all the particulars of grieving for you, keep you “in the loop” in a timely manner, and negotiate directly with the County. If, however, you’ve decided to handle your grievance yourself, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the tools provided by the County’s Assessment Review Commission (ARC).

ARC’s tool is called AROW (Assessment Review on the Web). AROW lets you review the data that the County has on your property, conduct online searches of recent sales in your area to determine if your property is overvalued (in other words, is valued at a price greater than what you’d get from an actual sale of the property), and perform other tasks (such as review School and General Tax payments you’ve made in past years). It also provides for direct online submissions of property tax assessment grievances.

Is Nassau County’s Data on Your Property Accurate?

Remember, the assessed value of your property listed in AROW is an estimate and may or may not agree with the value you’d get in an actual sale of your property. It’s crucial to examine the property characteristics listed in the system, because these have an impact on what AROW thinks your property is worth. You can inspect this data using AROW’s “Ladder Report,” which includes data relating to:

  • Living Area
  • Land Size
  • Style
  • Quality
  • Number of Bath Fixtures
  • Depreciation
  • Basement Type
  • Heating System
  • Presence/absence of Pools, Wood Decks, Porches, or Attached/Detached garages

Data in the AROW Ladder Report also extends to neighborhood characteristics (including the traffic level of the street nearest your property). Because all this data is relevant to determining your property’s assessed value, it’s very important to compare the data the County has to the actual reality of your home, land, and neighborhood. Perhaps the County’s assessment is spot on, or close to 100 percent accurate, or maybe it’s wildly off. Only a close examination of the data compiled by Nassau County on your particular property will reveal the truth; if there are errors, you’ll need to note them when you file your grievance.

But evaluating whether the data compiled by AROW on your property is accurate is just the first step; you also need to look at whether the comparable properties used by AROW to establish your property’s fair market value are truly “comparable.” Residential properties – even identical houses with identical floorplans and lot acreage – can differ tremendously in terms of depreciation, improvements, and other details that may result in markedly different fair market values.

If you’re filing Pro Se, determining whether “comparable” properties are truly comparable can be a challenging task as you’ll need to use your own judgment. While there’s no reason that you can’t do this job yourself, statistics show that using a professional, namely Maidenbaum, will result in a greater tax savings for you, in light of its experience, data and state-of-the- art technology utilized to analyze cases.

Pro-Se or Not, Filing an Effective Property Tax Grievance Really Counts This Year

It’s always a good idea to ensure that your Nassau County property is assessed accurately. But this year, the stakes are higher than ever. The effects of the recent limitation on the Federal SALT deduction (state and local tax), which caps state and local deductions to just $10,000, will soon be felt by Nassau County taxpayers, so every dollar counts as the 2021/22 tax season begins. Additionally, the County Executive’s proposed Taxpayer Protection Plan (which phases in assessment increases over a 5-year period) hasn’t, as of this writing, been passed by the Nassau County Legislature, which means that homeowners may face a tax hike in the near future.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with filing a pro se grievance, and we encourage you to spend time with AROW to familiarize yourself with how the tool works, to better understand the various and multitudinous data points that factor into your assessment, and to identify and flag any obvious errors.

But don’t make the mistake of filing a pro se tax challenge that’s defective, incomplete, or ignores details that have an impact on your fair share of the tax burden. Here, the pros can really help because, unlike you – grieving is all they do. Maidenbaum pledges to do what we’ve done for so many Nassau County homeowners in the past: do our best to use our technology and expertise to significantly reduce your property taxes. Should your case go a Small Claims Assessment Review (SCAR) hearing, we will represent you and use our years of experience to help achieve the best possible result.

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.