Nick Giancaspro is being asked to foot the bill for an error made by the NYC Department of Finance — a $100,000 error.
The Edson Avenue property owner has paid out nearly $75,000 in property taxes of the $100,000 the city says he owes for a single family home he owns and rents out, that the city has mistakenly classified as a commercial property.
Giancaspro also owns an auto body shop at 2951 Edson Avenue, next door to the home at 2945 Edson Avenue, and clearly separated from the business by a chain link fence and an alleyway.
“This is not a commercial property,” he said “I rent the upstairs to a single woman and the downstairs I use for myself. The down stairs doesn’t even have a kitchen, it has two rooms and a batroom.”
Giancaspro said he realized something wasn’t adding up about four years ago, after letting his accountant go, and taking over his own finances.
“I always knew the taxes seemed a little high,” Giancaspro said. “But when I actually sat down and looked at it, I noticed the mistake with the property classification.”
Giancaspro then had an assessor to look at the property, who assured the classification would be switched to reflect the property as a residence. But there was nothing that could be done, the assessor said, about refunding the overcharge.
That was last year, and Giancaspro assumed – wrongly – that the change had been made.
“The second assessor came out, and he knew what was going on, he was pretty annoyed,” Giancaspro said. “He said he would bring the case to the legal department and get it straightened out.”
Although the classification has been changed, as far as Giancaspro knows, nothing can be done about the money he has already paid out and the $25,000 he still owes.
Giancaspro said he has been in touch with the city tax commissioner, the deputy tax commissioner, and the city’s legal department.
But while they all admit there was an error, he said they tell him there is nothing they can do to get his money back.
“I am going to wind up having to pay it,” he said. “But I am taking a beating here. I think this is negligence and highway robbery. How can you admit you made a mistake but not do anything to correct it? Just because you are the city, doesn’t give you the right to steal from people.”
But, he has not given up on trying to get a refund.
Giancaspro wound up going to local state Senator Jeff Klein for help, but even Klein says he is frustrated with the Catch-22 bureauacracy.
“While the Commissioner assured me that he would personally ask the legal department to re-open the case, the Department of Finance ultimately maintained that despite the clear misclassification, they only repaid residents when there was a ‘clerical error’,” Klen said.
“According to their logic, since this was bigger than a mere clerical mix-up, Mr. Giancaspro was out of luck. That line of thinking doesn’t make any sense, which is why my staff and I are working everyday to get Mr. Giancaspro his money back.”
Giancaspro said that when the new round of property taxes come out, he expects his property tax on the house 2945 Edson Avenue will be reduced to reflect the change in classification.
“All I can say,” he said, “is if the city is doing this to me, who else are they stealing from?”
Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3394