Nassau tax assessments: How even some winners lost out

Since Nassau County’s assessment system overhaul began, thousands of homes each year have been granted what are essentially automatic assessment reductions by the county’s Assessment Review Commission. Thousands of other homes, though, are excluded from the overhaul component that leads to the automatic reductions, called Carry Forward.

A Newsday investigation published earlier this year exposed a shift of $1.7 billion in taxes from property owners who won assessment challenges filed since the overhaul began in 2010 to those who did not, revealing what effectively have become two systems of taxation that are separate and unequal.

But Newsday’s ongoing probe of the overhaul has also uncovered disparate treatment even among those who did challenge regularly.

Thousands of homes have been deemed ineligible for essentially automatic assessment reductions of 5 to 9 percent each year granted under the largely unknown overhaul component called Carry Forward because they failed to meet changing criteria that have not been made public.

The excluded properties most frequently end up with smaller reductions or none at all, which often results in them having years of higher assessments and smaller tax savings than they otherwise would have had.

The chart below shows how much typical homeowners saved from 2010 to 2015, depending on when they first appealed their assessment during the overhaul.

Note: Savings amounts listed in the chart exclude tax firm fees Newsday calculated at 45 percent of first-year tax savings even though most large firms charge 50 percent. Newsday defined the “typical” homeowner as one whose savings and fees were in the middle or median of each group.