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Assessments to reflect storm damage.

Owners of properties damaged by Northeaster'92 may get some timely and welcome relief from the City of New York.

Mayor David N. Dinkins and Finance, Commissioner Carol O'Cleireacain announced that assessors will be recanvassing areas of storm damage and reassessing affected properties in time for the Jan. 15 tentative assessment roll.

The mayor is also waiving late penalties for business taxpayers who were unable to file General Corporate or Bank Tax quarterly returns that were due Dec. 15. Those taxpayers should write "December Storm" on top of the return when they do file and attach an explanation of why they could not file on a timely basis.

Deputy Mayor Barry Sullivan and O'Cleireacain first proposed the ideas to the mayor.

O'Cleireacain noted in a statement that taxpayers who believe assessors missed storm damage should write to the address listed on their January assessment notice and specify they are asking for a storm reduction through the |change-by-notice' procedure.

That change-by-notice procedure could also work to increase one's assessment, however, and tax certiorari experts are warning owners not to take the new value out of hand. Even if the change starts off tentatively to be fair, explained tax certiorari attorney Jeffrey Golkin, because of a very quick change by notice procedure, the city could raise the assessment several months later and then only allow a few days to file a protest.

"Reasonable people may differ on the value or damage," he added.

He also suggested filing an application to protest any assessment and maintain the rights to challenge whatever is decided by the assessor or the change-by-notice procedure.

Golkin, a partner with Herzfeld & Rubin, observed it is a question of how far the city will go. "While it is in good faith attempting to reflect diminution in value and loss of value, our experience has been that the city does not go far enough," he said. "All owners are advised to contest the assessment whether or not the city tempers the assessment based on storm damage."

Richard Steinberg, a tax certiorari partner with Peter H. & Hubert J. Brandt, noted that most of the damage was probably done to single-family homes and the mayor's plan would provide a "real bonus" to the communities.

"The mayor should make the effort to comply with the law in a visible way especially in an election year," he said.

While the law reads that the property should be valued based on its condition on Jan. 5, he warned that once the property was repaired, the assessors could end up revaluing it higher in later years.

"But you never know," Steinberg added, "single-family homes might get |lost' and just stay that way [with the smaller assessment]."

Additionally, while some owners will be able to reflect storm damage expenses in their income and expense statement (RPIE) filings, others will not. "We're concerned with owners that have damage that will not impact the income statement," Golkin added.

July property tax bills will reflect the city's value whether or not the property has had a hearing on the protest. Those properties that are heard after approximately mid-May will have the new values reflected for later tax bills and would be entitled to a refund of any overpayments.

"While a property may be near the shore and gives you added value, it also gives you added risk," Golkin said.

Alfred C. Cerullo, III, minority leader of the City Council, stated in a letter that he applauded this initiative, but the city needs to do much more to assist the many New Yorkers who have been overwhelmed by the storm. He intends to push the city and state legislatures for a reinvestment tax relief plan in January in order encourage private enterprise and to develop a coordinated program to cover costs not addressed by private and federal insurance.

Where there was a water main break, the mayor announced this week he will forgive portions of water bills.
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Title Annotation:city government to reassess New York, New York properties for damage from December 1992 storm
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Dec 30, 1992
Words:654
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