For co-op and condo residents, the real property tax assessment rolls have become a tax roller coaster. Some eastern Queens co-ops are facing 50 percent increases in assessed value this year, at a time when market values are essentially flat.
Unfortunately, the recent release of real property tax assessments by the city Department of Finance indicates that DOF is still not living up to its responsibility to tax in a fair and consistent manner. The recurrence of this problem for a second year underscores the desperate need for permanent reform of the state’s real property tax law.
DOF does not seem to have a reasonable, transparent, predictable method of assessing real property values for co-ops and condos. Last year, Queens co-ops and condos faced inexplicable and unexpected assessment increases.
After my colleagues in the City Council Co-op Condo Caucus and I joined with community and co-op leaders to protest the outrageous tax hikes, DOF agreed to cap the increases. Now, this year’s assessments are almost as objectionable and unfounded as last year’s.
Unfortunately, the law does not permit DOF to assess co-ops in a predictable manner, as it does for single-family homes and rental buildings. Instead, DOF values co-ops by comparing them to rentals, a process exacerbated when DOF’s computer system selects inappropriate comparables.
Following the 2011 fiasco surrounding this issue, Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), the Council and Mayor Michael Bloomberg agreed to create a plan to submit to the state Legislature to fix the co-op and condo real property tax system once and for all.
It is imperative that the state change the way co-ops and condos are assessed. Relief cannot come a moment too soon.