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Quirk In Nassau County's Property Tax Assessment Sticks Homeowners With Shockingly High Bills; 'It Equates To Legalized Stealing'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - It was supposed to fix a flawed, decade-old tax assessment system, but some homeowners in Nassau County say the fix is even worse.

The homeowners are stuck with shockingly high property taxes, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported.

The McCarthys were thrilled to buy their $800,000 house in Massapequa. It was newly-built and neighborhood taxes were less than $20,000 per year, a reasonable amount.

Then came new assessments across Nassau County.

The annual tax on the McCarthy's house is now $37,000.

"It's made them unconscionable, just totally unfair and unreasonable," said Sean McCarthy. "We are paying about 12 to $14,000 more than similar sized properties on larger sized lots."

MORE: Nassau County To Reassess Properties Every Year

McCarthy blames a flaw in the reassessment, and he's not the only one impacted.

Michael Margolis's neighbors in Plainview pay in the $25,000 range. But, he's paying $42,000.

"The unfairness, the injustice is beyond- my property taxes are double what they should be," Margolis said.

What do these houses have in common besides shockingly high property taxes? They're new construction, and for various reasons the owners didn't join the masses of Nassau homeowners who grieved their taxes when the county rubber stamped reductions.

That landed a few hundred homeowners into an unenviable group - they're paying extra while others pay less.

"They use you to pay for your neighbors' taxes. It equates to legalized stealing, theft," said Margolis.

Most agreed reassessment was overdue. In fact, the county approved a tax payer protection plan to blunt the impact of sudden hikes: a five-year phase-in. But, some new construction isn't entitled to the plan.

"Because my house is new construction, it's unconstitutionally taxed higher than non-new construction houses," said McCarthy.

Tax attorney Jeff Gold said the phase-in plan helps most, but clearly not all.

"It's unfortunate for them. I have looked to find a solution. The only solution can be legislative," said Gold.

It's an unintentional quirk in the law that State Sen. Kevin Thomas and Assemblyman Charles Lavine say they're trying to fix in proposed legislation.

"The idea is to do our level best to make sure that all homeowners are treated equally," said Lavine.

"This will provide them with a lot of relief," said Thomas.

Meantime, McCarthy is suing to stop the phase-in across Nassau County until his house is assessed the same way his neighbors' are.

In a statement to CBS2, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said:

If Nassau County is to remain an attractive suburb for new families and to stimulate construction jobs, it is imperative that a tax exemption is expanded to incentivize new housing and building renovations. With the COVID pandemic increasing demand for housing that is attractive to families seeking a backyard and outdoor space, Nassau has to help New York retain families and not let them move to Connecticut or New Jersey.

Curran had been in favor of the phase-in.

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