Spending the entire week trying to retain a class action attorney to take the case of those Rockaway homeowners who wish to contest their property tax, I have made a slew of discoveries:
No attorney will take on a class one (one or two family) class action suit because the homework on preparing a class action is the same as it is preparing a single office building case times the number of class action participants, too time consuming, poor remuneration.
In tax law speak, until now under the S-7000 tax law, Class One Property taxes have been limited to 30 percent increase for a 5 year period. For those that have been underassessed, once they are restored to pre-Sandy condition, they might be reassessed at full market value based on the restored condition. The increase on EMV might be brought up to the MV increasing your Property Taxes by 6 percent of the much higher Effective Property Value. Apparently nobody in city government is willing to tell those homeowners damaged by Sandy how they will compute PV once any reduction in RE Taxes expires between now and the number of abatement years. We need government guarantees that we will not be punished RE tax-wise when our property regains its pre-Sandy value.
In homeowner speak, if there is a great disparity between your Fair Market Value (FMV) and Effective Market Value (EMV) as is included on your Notice of Property Value (NOPV), the EMV being considerably lower, you may not wish to challenge until you are certain we will get a fair shake.
If your assessment is already lower than that of your friends and neighbors, you’d be best to let a sleeping dog lie and not protest. To challenge your property taxes, Forms TC108 and TC10 can be downloaded from the Tax Commission website or secured by dialing 311 and requesting them in the mail. They must be filled out and sent in by March 15th, 2013. The TC 108 should include houses in contract post Sandy for a more accurate handle on the value of your home.
When gathering comparables to prove your house value is overpriced, the Tax Commission asks you to list three houses that have closed. If these houses are hard to locate, use houses currently in contract for your comparables (if you can locate them) and include a narrative as to your reason for selecting houses in contract rather than those that have closed: the rationale being any house that closed prior to Sandy and within the three or four months post Sandy, are using Pre-Sandy prices and, therefore, cannot possibly reduce your taxes.
In order for our community to get across-the-board tax relief post Sandy legislation would have to come from Albany; and, thus far, nobody in Albany is willing to help us.
The city council is taking up legislation to help the 2,300 homeowners whose houses are 50-100 percent destroyed due to Sandy. The remainder of us, thus far, must fend for ourselves.
On February 26th at PS 114 there will be a meeting in which representatives from city, state and federal government will be in attendance to answer many of our questions. Individual horror stories, for which we all have empathy, will bog down the question and answer session. Prepare your TC forms and bring them for review and correction and be prepared with pen and pad to take notes on information directly related to your plight.
Most probably there will be forms there that will, if filled out properly, get us to the point we are on our way to recovery.
For the time being, our politicians should be fighting for an across the board RE Tax decrease for all homeowners devastated by Sandy of a minimum of 25 percent. This may not be exactly what we deem fair; however, those who are dissatisfied with 25 percent should protest individually. Reminding our politicians, protesting property values individually could take years, it would be sweet to know what do they intend to do to expedite the process? The first suggestion should be an extension of the extended March 15th filing deadline.