Why You Should File an Annual Property Tax Grievance

While it’s true that some Nassau County residents don’t consistently grieve their property tax assessments every year, your chance of maximally reducing your property taxes is enhanced by consistent and regular filing. In this article, we’ll explain why it’s recommended that you grieve your property tax assessment each and every time the County gives you a window of opportunity to do so.  In general, baring any extensions, the time period to sign up runs from September 1st to March 1st.

Grieving is Truth-Telling

Just as the right of appeal is enshrined in our legal system, the right to grieve your property tax assessment is necessary in Nassau County. The mere fact that the County’s Department of Assessment claims that your property is “worth X” doesn’t mean that this claim is written in stone. Challenging your assessment, a/k/a “grieving” — either on your own or with the aid of a professional property tax grievance representative such as Maidenbaum — gives you an opportunity to gather relevant facts and make a strong case that the County’s assessment of your property needs to be reduced.

Why Some Homeowners Don’t Consistently Grieve

Some homeowners are under the mistaken assumption that if they have previously filed a tax grievance, they don’t need to do so each year. This is not the case! Each year is reviewed independently, and past success doesn’t preclude a challenge in the future. In addition, Nassau County’s property tax system is complicated, and there are lengthy and often confusing lag times between important dates and milestones. For example, the County publishes its tentative assessment roll in January of each year. Absent the filing of a grievance by March 1st (the deadline) of that same year, the fair market values established in this tentative assessment will become final and will be used to determine the tax amount the homeowner must pay to the County in October of the following year– some nineteen (19) months later.

Some homeowners may think they will simply wait until the actual tax dollar amount is known before, they choose to challenge their assessment.  Unfortunately, since the deadline to file for a specific tax year is many months before actual tax rates and dollar amounts are known, it will be too late to grieve for that particular tax year. It’s important for homeowners to understand this concept and think of a grievance as a protective action, and not a reactive one.

Given that Nassau County School and General tax rates tend to rise each year — and that the assessed value of your property is multiplied by these ever-rising tax rates, you may be paying more than your fair share of Nassau County’s property tax burden. This can mean a serious financial impact, especially for those owning high-value homes, given that the SALT (State and Local Tax) deduction was reduced several years ago to just $10,000.

Grieve Now, Grieve Often, and Win

A far better course of action is to grieve your assessment when you are given the opportunity each year. Errors in the assessment process can crop up for all kinds of reasons, and it’s your job (or your representative’s, if you ), to ferret out each and every source of error that might result in an inflated assessment.

Grieving gives the homeowner a chance to correct these errors, but a single grievance may not be enough to bring Nassau County’s data on your property in line with reality. It may take several years to achieve this, which is why consistent and repeated filing is necessary. Even if you don’t receive a reduction for one year, you could very well get one for the successive year.

Remember: there’s zero downside to grieving. There’s no chance that because of your grievance the County will increase your property’s assessment. Grieving – and grieving repeatedly, is a zero-risk option with only two possible results: a reduced assessment or an assessment that stays the same.

Grieving Consistently is a Long-Term Money-Saving Strategy

The goal of a fair assessment is to make sure that you never shoulder more than your fair share of Nassau County’s property tax burden. Put simply, this means that the fair market value listed in your assessment should closely match the actual dollar figure you’d receive if you sold your home today.

Think of an individual grievance as a single course correction in a multi-year voyage whose aim is to bring your listed fair market value closer to reality. Repeated, consistent grieving “fine tunes” this process so that these two values ultimately converge in a single number that satisfies both parties – you and Nassau County.

Some portion of the work required to achieve this result may involve negotiation — often directly with the Assessment Review Commission via telephone, electronic communication, or via an in-person hearing. In these exchanges, errors and discrepancies can be eliminated, bringing the actual value of your home in line with average comparable sales in your neighborhood.

While it’s possible to do this work on your own, we believe that your best chance of realizing the maximum in property tax savings lies in assigning this work to specialists who know the ins and outs of Nassau County’s property tax system better than anyone. If you’d like Maidenbaum to represent you in your property tax grievance, please click here to get started.