New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Lawsuit Seeks to Fix City’s Broken Tax Assessment System

New York City

Property Tax Lawsuit

Mayor Bill de Blasio's Brooklyn home (center), valued at $1.5 million, taxed at $3,500 (image via Google Maps)

April 26, 2017

For years, New York co-op and condo advocates have railed against the city’s tangled system of property tax assessments, arguing that one-, two-, and three-family homeowners receive unfair benefits. But every effort at reforming the archaic, 36-year-old system has met with failure. The issue has proven too political for politicians to tackle, so fed-up taxpayers are now taking the issue to court.

A coalition of civil justice and real estate interests called Tax Equity Now NY filed a lawsuit Tuesday claiming the tax assessment system is racially biased and favors the affluent over working- and middle-class homeowners, the Daily News reports. The group includes the watchdog group Citizens Budget Commission and the real estate giants Related and RXR Realty. Their lawyer on the case is former state chief Judge Jonathan Lippmann.

"Litigation is the only way to achieve an equitable resolution on property taxes," says Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, a business group not party to the suit.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has failed to live up to his campaign promise to address the issue, disagrees. “Putting it into the court system, that's not the way to make decisions,” he says. “And also I guarantee you that there will be years and years of litigation that won’t result in anything anytime soon.”

De Blasio’s personal tax bill is $3,500 on a Park Slope, Brooklyn, rowhouse the city values at $1.5 million. The Daily News found homeowners paying more in predominantly minority East New York, Brooklyn, and Laurelton, Queens, on homes worth far less. The reason is that the system favors neighborhoods with high-value property because it caps the amount the city can hike assessments at 6 percent per year and no more than 20 percent within five years.

The rich keep getting richer while everyone else picks up the tab. See you in court.

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