Thursday, December 01
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Property Taxes too high?

HRES: You have had an extensive career in Real Estate, as well as Planning & Zoning. When did you start doing Tax Grievance work?
CC: About six years ago I was hired by Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin & Quartararo as a Paralegal because of my experience in local Planning & Zoning, which is a very specialized type of work on the East End. My predecessor had been doing tax grievance work, but my experience in real estate, including my real estate broker’s license, enhanced my understanding of how towns assess property taxes. We created the unique system we use today to help property owners reduce their property taxes, which has been very successful.

HRES: Do you specialize in certain areas and types of properties?
CC: Our areas of expertise are residential properties in the Towns of Southampton, East Hampton and Southold. Because of my particular knowledge of these areas, we can often recognize potential tax savings based on certain unique features. For example, people may not be aware that conservation easements can result in substantial tax savings in some cases.

HRES: What if someone doesn’t qualify for your minimum tax savings?
CC: We are always happy to help, if possible. There are agencies we can refer and in some cases, I have assisted with information they can use to file an application on their own. If they have questions, we’ll answer them if we can, or we will find the answer.

HRES: What is the deadline and when should people contact you?
CC: The deadline for filing a tax grievance in the Towns of Southampton, East Hampton, and Southold is always the third Tuesday in May. This year it is May 19, 2015. Because we file a large number of claims, we always submit the filing the Friday before, which would be May 15, 2015. We need time to do our research, including coordinating with an appraiser, so, if interested, people should call us as soon as possible.

HRES: What is different and unique about the way your firm treats tax grievance filings?
CC: We do a lot of homework before we take on a case and we do not encourage the property owner to proceed unless we believe that we can obtain at least a $3,000 tax reduction. We work closely with an appraiser and research the details of each property so that we can determine if a filing is warranted.

HRES: What are the fees/costs people can expect?
CC: As I mentioned, we do substantial research beforehand, which includes a “Pre-Appraisal” report performed by a licensed appraiser at a cost of $200. If a filing is warranted, we require a full appraisal. Our appraiser is very reasonable and deducts the $200 for the “Pre-Appraisal” from the cost of the full appraisal, which is generally between $500 – $1,000, depending on the size of the property and its features. Submitting an appraisal is mandatory for our tax filings and substantiates our request for a reduced assessment. If successful, our firm’s fee is one-half of the tax savings for the year in which we file. If we are not successful, there is no legal fee.

HRES: Without being too specific, can you give an example of the most you have saved a client?
CC: That’s easy. Last year we achieved first year savings for property owners in East Hampton and Southampton of $32,000, $28,000 and $27,000.