Homeowners in parts of Brooklyn got one hell of a shock this past week when they opened an envelope from the Dept. of Finance that contained their Notice of Property Value (NOPV).
“I’m pretty sure you could hear the blood-curdling screams from outer space last night as people came home to their new property tax notices,” City Councilmember Justin Brannan told this paper. “We all know our property tax system is badly broken. It’s outdated, completely unfair and excessively complicated. You shouldn’t need a Master’s degree in trigonometry to understand this stuff.”
In an effort to help his constituents decipher their tax notification, Brannan is literally begging taxpayers to call his office in order to help them better understand or challenge their notices.
“PLEASE call my office if you want to challenge your market value, your tax class, property description or other information on your Notice of Property Value,” Brannan implored.
Brannan said that the most important thing he wants property owners to know is that “the Dept. of Finance does not base property taxes directly on your ‘Market Value.’ Your taxes are based on your ‘Effective Market Value,’ which you can find listed on page 3 of your NOPV.”
He also wants people to realize that the NOPV they received this past week in the mail is not a bill and that no payment is required at this time.
“It’s basically a notice saying what your property taxes will look like later this year,” Brannan explained. “But hopefully we will have good news by then from the Property Tax Reform Commission.”
Brannan has long been proactively addressing this issue. In fact, he wrote a guest op-ed for this paper expressing his belief that property taxes are much too high and has been working diligently with the City Council to get Mayor Bill de Blasio to convene a Property Tax Reform Commission in hopes of making what he called a “broken system” easier for taxpayers to navigate.
“As it stands right now, people living in million-dollar brownstones in Park Slope have lower effective property tax rates than homeowners in my district and that is just unacceptable,” Brannan said. “The hardworking people of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and Bensonhurst are right up there with those hit the hardest by our busted property tax system. This reform effort needs to be about bringing fairness, simplicity and sanity to our system. The hardworking people I represent deserve nothing less. Mr. Mayor, throw us a bone here. We fought you to create the Property Tax Reform Commission. Now we need some relief.”
Brannan is not alone in voicing his opinion on property tax reform. Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis has also been a vocal advocate for reforming New York City’s property tax structure and establishing a tax cap. She even created a petition to fight for New York City’s inclusion.
“While the residents of other municipalities in the state have been protected by the two percent cap on their property tax levy, New York City’s levy has increased by a whopping 44 percent in the last five years,” Malliotakis said. “The city must impose a cap so our residents aren’t forced to leave the communities they call home.”
Brannan did say that he believed that real progress was being made with his colleagues and that there is a strong commitment to advance equity and transparency but he is still awaiting more definitive action.
“I think they will come out with something in the spring and hopefully it will mean good news for our neighborhoods,” he added.
Furthermore, Brannan has some suggestions for taxpayers. “In order to lower your taxes, you have to prove your home is worth less than that Effective Market Value number,” he said. “In most cases, your taxes should not be doubling or going up by $10,000—if they are, call us!”
Brannan added that the property tax system we’re dealing with today is based on legislation that passed in the ‘80s, and that’s why he’s insistent on fighting for what he termed “much-needed meaningful property tax reform.”
“I was one of the only councilmembers to vote ‘NO’ to raising property taxes,” Brannan told this paper. “In fact, I voted ‘NO’ twice.”