Taxing issue for homeowners

Photo by Aracelis Batista

Sometimes the city can be a big pain in the assess.

But now homeowners have a chance to challenge their property tax assessments, and even contest them in person before the city Department of Finance and the Tax Commission.

The agencies will be holding an outreach session in the borough next week.

Individual property owners can challenge the Notice of Property Value (NOPV) they should have recently received in the mail at the session, on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 3030 Third Ave., 2nd floor, from 10 a.m. to noon.

They can also challenge by mail, providing any corrections to the Department of Finance by Monday, March 17 for one-, two- and three- family homes. Deadline for other properties in Monday, March 3. Final calculations will then be made.

“A lot of people do not even know that they can appeal,” said east Bronx City Councilman Jimmy Vacca. “Many people should be looking at the bills carefully to see if there are errors.”

Common errors can often lead to over-assessment, he said.

While the City Council has only voted to raise property taxes once in the past eight years (Vacca voted against the increase), most property owners are nevertheless seeing an increase in market and assessed values because of a rise in valuations, he said. These are now calculated annually.

On one-, two- and three-family homes, assessed valuations are often based at least partly on the market value, but the assessed value may be lower because property tax increases are capped by state law for these owners at six percent a year or 20 percent over five years.

For certain classes of property owners, such as those with larger commercial parcels, there are different guidelines.

People should scrutinize their NOPV carefully, said Vacca.

“It is a customer beware situation, and it could mean dollars in your pocket and that is why I urge people to be vigilant and aware of this opportunity,” he said. “I want to do all the outreach I can to see if there is a mistake in the property owner’s favor. God knows we pay enough taxes.”

One possible mistake can be found in the case of Lorraine Canny, who believes she has been paying for 592 square feet of extra space tacked onto her 1,584 square foot home on Pearsall Avenue off Pelham Parkway.

“We are struggling here and no one is helping,” she said. “It takes the Department of Finance three months to respond, and it is a disgrace.”

Canny believes the difference in square-footage may be due to a data-entry error from when paper records were digitalized about a decade ago.

She and Steven Franciosa, a commercial property owner on City Island, reached out to Vacca for help.

Both Franciosa and Canny cannot understand their assessments when they compare them to those of similar property owners.

“It is off the cuff as far as I am concerned,” Franciosa said of the process.

“I just like to know that there a little push back before the government does what it wants.”

For further information on challenging a property assessment, go to www.nyc.gov/html/taxcomm.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742–3393. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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