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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Report Highlights

Tax Exemption Administration In the Towns of Babylon, Brookhaven, Huntington, Islip and Smithtown (2019MR-1)

Released: September 20, 2019 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Audit Objective

Determine whether town assessors in Suffolk County are properly administering select real property tax exemptions.

Key Findings

  • Assessors incorrectly calculated exemptions granted, some of which included Town-wide errors.
  • Assessors granted exemptions that lacked applications or supporting documentation.
  • Assessors misclassified or failed to grant supported exemptions.

Key Recommendations

  • Properly apply State equalization rate or other uniform rate of assessment to all properties listed on the Town’s assessment roll.
  • Ensure all applicants provide adequate supporting documentation before granting exemptions.
  • Annually verify income to support Senior Citizen exemptions.

Background

Assessors are responsible for granting and tracking real property tax exemptions within the local government’s boundaries. Assessors determine the assessed values of properties for the assessment roll, which is then used to create the tax bills for the following year’s tax rolls. Assessors must retain documentation that properties are eligible for exemptions.

We audited the administration of Alternative Veterans, Persons 65 Years of Age or Older (Senior Citizens) and Volunteer Firefighters and Ambulance Workers (Firefighters) exemptions in the Towns of Babylon, Brookhaven, Huntington, Islip and Smithtown. This global report summarizes the significant issues at all of the towns audited. See Appendix A for additional background information.

Quick Facts
TownTotal Population of Selected ExemptionsTotal Exempted Assessed Value of Select Exemptionsa
Babylon11,352$718.6 million
Brookhaven21,724$1.7 billion
Huntington8,055$580.5 million
Islip12,616$1.2 billion
Smithtown6,211$497 million
a Adjusted for the Towns’ equalization rates

Audit Period

December 1, 2017 – November 30, 2018


Local Government and School Accountability Contact Information:

Phone: (518) 474-4037; Email: localgov@osc.ny.gov
Address: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Local Government and School Accountability
110 State Street, 12th Floor; Albany, NY 12236