News Release – Tom Golisano Launching Tax My Property Fairly – A New Campaign to Help Homeowners in Upstate New York Fight for Fair Property Taxes
Rochester, NY—Philanthropist and businessman Tom Golisano announced today that he is launching a new campaign, Tax My Property Fairly, to help Upstate New York homeowners fight for fair property taxes.
The campaign features a new web site, TaxMyPropertyFairly.com, an online resource to help property owners in Upstate New York (from Buffalo to Albany) understand why their property taxes are among the highest in the nation relative to property value, how the assessment process has become inconsistent and inequitable, and how people can challenge their assessments if they feel their properties are not fairly assessed.
Golisano is also planning to launch a class action lawsuit on behalf of Upstate NY taxpayers who sold their homes for less than assessed value to try to help them recover some of the tax overpayment. Property owners in Upstate NY who have sold their homes over the past five years for less than assessed value may express their interest in joining the lawsuit by completing a brief form on TaxMyPropertyFairly.com.
The campaign also includes new social media sites where taxpayers may share their experiences and ideas on how to make the property tax system more equitable, and advertising that will run in January in multiple markets in Upstate NY.
“I want to see a public swell of concern over the property tax process and how inequitable and unfair it is, and see a change in the process. When you compare the property tax system to those for sales and income taxes, just look at the figures, whether homeowners are over or under assessed, there is no equity here.”
“I hope that we will spark conversation and dialogue to see how we can make this system equitable. We have seen the flight from New York to more tax friendly states. We need solutions that will make it more affordable to move to and stay in New York State. We know how difficult it can be for first time homeowners to buy a home. It is a struggle for older homeowners on fixed incomes to afford to stay in the communities they have called home for years.”
“It is not fair for some homeowners to be paying more in property taxes than the market value of their homes and for others to pay less. The system is not fair if people need to hire lawyers and consultants to navigate a complex process to challenge their assessments. This is not only an effort to reduce taxes, but rather one to help improve the system so that it is more equitable.”
“Our legislators have failed to address and correct these issues, which they’ve known about for years. It's up to us, the taxpayers, to work with our elected officials to create a property tax system that is fair and equitable for all taxpayers.”
Three of the top five cities with some of the highest effective property tax rates in the nation are in Upstate NY (Binghamton, Rochester and Syracuse) according to REALTOR Magazine. Property taxes can be almost equal to or higher than combined principal and interest mortgage payments.
Assessments are a major determinant of property taxes, as are school budgets, which continue to rise despite declines in enrollment. The property tax cap of two percent merely caps increases on already high taxes.
To see how properties in Upstate NY were assessed relative to the sale price, Golisano studied a sample of Upstate NY real estate sales from June 2017 in Broome, Erie, Monroe, Onondaga, Albany and Rensselaer Counties. The results were highly inconsistent, both within and between counties.
· 39% of properties in Albany and Rensselaer were over assessed compared to sale price.
· 51% of properties in Broome County were over assessed compared to sale price.
· 22% of properties in Erie County were over assessed compared to sale price.
· 29% of properties in Monroe County were over assessed compared to sale price.
· 25% of properties in Onondaga County were over assessed compared to sale price.
Flaws and Complexities in the Assessment System
Because of the assessments system’s complexity and flaws it is not easy for property owners to know where to begin when it comes to fighting for a fair property tax rate.
· 500-plus exemptions and a multitude of different classification codes in which properties are assessed. With more codes, more opportunity exists for inequities.
· Inconsistent training of assessors - assessors in Nassau County, Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers are not required to obtain a basic certification. This should concern property owners in these areas.
· No organizations or individuals currently oversee or audit assessors’ actions.
· Since condos are assessed differently than residential properties, some condo owners pay a fraction of what a single homeowner would pay for property that is valued the same because of how the law requires assessments to be calculated.
· The property tax system penalizes property owners who maintain and improve properties through higher assessment, and rewards those who do not with lower assessments.
Golisano says there are things homeowners can do, which is why he launched TaxMyPropertyFairly.com.
· Become educated. Know what are you paying in taxes and why.
· Understand your assessment and if you think it is not fair, challenge it to get your taxes reduced.
· Some may feel it’s not worth it to challenge their assessment to save for example, $500 a year, but over the course of several years the savings from overpayment adds up.
· Voice your opinion and tell your legislators that taxes in upstate NY are too high.
· Participate in local government including attending town and school board meetings and voting.
· Share your stories and ideas on how to create a more equitable property tax system and how you have successfully challenged your property taxes on our Facebook page.
· Express interest in joining the class action lawsuit. See form at TaxMyPropertyFairly.com
· Sign up for news and follow us on social media.
Golisano owns property in Upstate NY in Mendon and South Bristol on Canandaigua Lake. He became a Florida resident in 2009, saving approximately $14,000 a day on state income taxes. He successfully challenged assessments on two homes. He pays property and school taxes in New York exceeding $212,000 annually. He is currently withholding the school and property tax payments on his Canandaigua home due to an uncontrollable geese problem that was met with no help from the town. Like others who may not live in New York year-round, he cannot vote in the local town and school elections that determine and influence the amount of taxes he pays.
Tax My Property Fairly is an online resource for property owners to get information and tools to fight for fair property taxes. It was established in 2018 by Tom Golisano, entrepreneur and philanthropist, who owns property in New York State and successfully challenged his assessment on two homes. Through this web site he will share what he has learned in the process. Follow us: Twitter Facebook YouTube Instagram
Tom Golisano grew up in western NY and graduated from Alfred State College in 1962. In 1971, he founded and is Chairman of Paychex, a leader in the payroll, human resource, and benefits outsourcing, headquartered in Rochester, NY. He launched the Golisano Foundation in 1985, which awards grants to organizations in Western NY that provide opportunities for those with intellectual disabilities. His philanthropic contributions to hospitals, including three children’s hospitals that bear his name (Rochester, NY; Syracuse, NY and Fort Myers, Florida), numerous educational institutions in Upstate NY and other organizations exceed $304 million. Mr. Golisano became a founding member of the Independence Party of New York State and ran for governor of New York in 1994, 1998, and 2002. He is the former owner the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League, which he purchased in 2003 to keep the community asset in Buffalo, demonstrating his commitment to Western New York and the region's economic climate. Mr. Golisano sold the team in 2011 with the stipulation that the team remain in Western NY