Millions Could be Saved on Tax Assessment Practices
Report Encourages Shared Services and Efficiencies
Local governments across New York State could save as much as $12.5 million annually by improving tax assessment procedures and sharing assessment duties with other governments, according to a report released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
“New York has one of the most complex property tax systems in the nation, but it doesn’t have to,” DiNapoli said. “New York has the highest taxes in the nation, and we have the most assessors in the nation as well. This is an area ripe for sharing. There’s no need for properties to be assessed over and over again by every level of local government. Towns, villages and counties should eliminate duplication and improve the quality of assessments to cut costs and save taxpayer dollars.”
In 2009, New York’s city, county, town and village assessing units spent $132 million and employed 1,350 assessors, tax directors and assessment appraisers. While most states have fewer than 100 assessing units – and only seven have more than 500 – New York has approximately 1,110. Of those, 981 are towns and cities and two are counties.
Additionally, 127 villages also assess property within their borders for village taxes. And those properties are already assessed separately by towns or counties for county, town and school tax purposes. If those villages used town assessments instead, they could save $3 million. The report also found that if local governments shared tax assessors, they could save between $2.7 million and $6.1 million annually.
DiNapoli’s report encourages municipalities to reassess properties regularly to cut down on the number of assessment challenges (tax certiorari) brought by taxpayers. Successful challenges shift property tax burdens from the homeowner who filed the challenge to the rest of the locality’s taxpayers.
The report noted that if local governments with high rates of tax certiorari cases reduced the number of proceedings by even a third, it would generate cost savings of $5.1 million. If the number of cases was reduced by half, the savings could be as high as $7.6 million statewide. Every 10 cases per 10,000 parcels increase assessment costs by 4.1 percent.
A copy of the report on tax assessments can be found at: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/pubs/research/snapshot/0511snapshot.pdf