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File A Grievance Or Your Property Taxes Will Go Up In Nassau County, Experts Remind Homeowners

ISLAND PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Officials in Nassau County say a record number of residents are contesting their property taxes this year.

As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported, more than half of all Nassau homeowners filed grievances and are saving big bucks. But those who did not file grievances are paying for their neighbors' refunds.

With their property tax bill in hand, the Sofios of Island Park marched into their tax receiver office to ask, should they join the masses challenging their homes' assessments?

"I want to see if I'm eligible to see if I can get a reduction," said Greg Sofio.

They quickly found out they had missed the deadline. And Joy Sofio said while their property taxes are going up, their neighbors' are going down.

A record number of neighbors countywide are grieving their property assessments this year 216,000 of Nassau County's 365,000 homes.

For those who are not filing grievances, attorney Jeff Gold said, "You're paying more, and the system is broken, and you have to file a grievance every year until they fix it."

Gold runs a Facebook page to shepherd taxpayers through the process.

"We had dozens of members in those districts get 25 percent reductions. That's huge," Gold said, "We even saw reduction of 35 percent in some houses."

The surge in appeals is the result of a filing extension and increased public awareness brought about by workshops – spreading the word that the tax burden shifts to those who do not grieve.

"The increase in filings is due to our community outreach - we held over 45 community meetings mostly attended by homeowners that had not filed previously with ARC - and the County Executive's extension of the filing deadline by 17 days," Robin Laveman, chairman of the county Assessment Review Commission, said in a statement.

"It's just very, very expensive to live on Long Island, so I'm glad I found that, so now I grieved the first time and I'll continue grieving every year," said first-time tax challenger Jeanine Picos.

County Executive Ed Mangano blames antiquated state laws. All Nassau County homes will be reassessed next year.

Meantime, the Sofios' taxes have gone up hundreds of dollars in the same period, while their next-door neighbor's have gone down. He appeals annually.

The neighbor said of those who don't know how to file grievances: "Shame on them. I mean, it's there for everyone. They send you letters and fliers in the mail – all different types of companies."

More residents than ever are ditching tax appeal firms, realizing how easy it is to file a grievance on their own and keeping their refund.

The deadline to file a tax grievance in Nassau County this year was March, after Mangano granted a 17-day extension.

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