Nassau County Property Tax Reduction Consultant
State Attorney General Spitzer and Harvey Levinson, Chairman of the Nassau County Board of Assessors, today announced a settlement with an East Hills company alleged to have overcharged Long Island residents who relied on the firm for advice in challenging their property tax assessments.
Under the settlement, Property Tax Reduction Consultants, Inc. (PTRC), will provide $400,000 in refunds to thousands of homeowners.
"Homeowners seeking relief from unduly high tax assessments are entitled to accurate information and billings from those who claim to be acting in their best interests," Attorney General Spitzer said.
Chairman Levinson said: "If it was not for the review of my office and the actions of Attorney General Spitzer, thousands of homeowners would have been overbilled by hundreds of thousands of dollars. This settlement should send a clear message to all businesses engaged in property assessment protests that their actions are being closely scrutinized and that they need to become more familiar with the property tax structure as it exists in Nassau County."
PTRC is one of many companies on Long Island that specialize in the business of protesting residential property assessments. PTRC assists homeowners with the paperwork associated with protesting an assessment and charges a fee of 50 percent of the property owners tax savings on successful protests.
In a complaint filed with the settlement agreement, PRTC is alleged to have used incorrect estimates of the tax savings of assessment reductions, overstating the actual savings to homeowners and inflating its fee.
For example, one homeowner was notified by PTRC that he would receive a tax reduction of $1,783. PTRC billed the homeowner 50 percent of the tax reduction or $891. However, because the homeowner was entitled to a low-income senior citizen exemption from paying taxes on approximately 40 percent of his property s assessed value, his actual tax savings were only $1,198. PTRC should have only billed for 50 percent of that amount or $599, an overbilling of $292.
Under the settlement, PTRC will make restitution of approximately $400,000 to homeowners and will pay $250,000 in penalties and $2,000 in costs. The company has also agreed to reform its billing practices. It will also retain relevant records for inspection by the Attorney Generals Office.
Attorney General Spitzer thanked Mr. Levinson and the staff of the Nassau County Department of Assessment for discovering overcharges by the company and referring the matter to the Attorney Generals regional office.
The investigation and settlement were handled by Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge Juan Merchan of the Nassau Regional office with the assistance of Investigator Paul Matthews.
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