Category Archives: Don Clavin

Receiver Clavin Launches Long Island’s First Taxpayers’ Podcast Series

Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin will be riding the Internet airwaves as he is set to premiere the first episode of “Taxpayers First”; Long Island’s first taxpayers’ podcast series. “Taxpayers First” is a brand new podcast where the Receiver himself will interview prominent community leaders and elected officials, as well as feature important information for local taxpayers. The podcast will be available for free and featured on the Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes social media pages @TOHReceiver and at TOHReceiver.buzzsprout.com.

 

“Podcasts offer the opportunity for broadcasters to reach out and connect with the community right through the listener’s headphones,” said Clavin. “I’m always on the lookout for new and exciting ways to keep residents informed about how they can reduce their tax burden and other important issues.”

 

As Long Island property owners clamor for more information on how to challenge their property assessments and take advantage of tax exemptions, the Receiver is making it more convenient than ever to learn about the necessary intricacies of school and property taxes. In the wake of a looming property assessment overhaul in Nassau County, “Taxpayers First” will keep residents up to date on all important assessment information, as well as offering advice for homeowners.

 

The Receiver already has a slew of interviewees slated to appear on his podcast “Taxpayers First,” starting with New York State Senator Elaine Phillips. The two will converse about the increasing cost of living on Long Island and what that means for its “golden-aged” residents. The Senator and the Receiver partnered earlier this month to propose an increase to the income eligibility limits for the Senior Citizens’ Property Tax Exemption.

 

“I’m excited to be the inaugural guest on Receiver Clavin’s ‘Taxpayers First’ podcast,” stated Senator Phillips. “Podcasts reach a great amount of listeners, whether they’re commuting to work or simply doing some chores around the house. It’s a convenient tool for residents to stay up to date on their local government.”

 

Recently, Clavin held the first Facebook Town Hall, where he went live on Facebook and fielded questions from viewers concerning property tax exemptions, assessment challenges and personal tax-related questions. Additionally, the Receiver is very active on his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts @TOHReceiver.

 

“Right now, we are living in a world that is heavily influenced by social media and there is an abundance of resources out there to truly bring good government to the residents,” concluded Clavin. “Be sure to tune in to my new podcast ‘Taxpayers First,’ as this will set the tone for government leaders to better connect with their communities in the future.”

 

Visit Receiver Clavin’s webpage

Town Officials, Library Reps Respond To Call For ‘Amazon To Replace Libraries’

Leaders Urge Residents To Rediscover Local Libraries

 

An “opinion piece” that briefly appeared in Forbes this past Saturday has evoked strong public outcry in defense of public libraries and has also presented Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin, other local officials and public library administrators with an opportunity to highlight the manifold programs and services which are being offered at these centers of education, culture and socialization. The op-ed piece, entitled “Amazon Should Replace Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money,” claimed that libraries don’t provide the same value to the public that they once did. The opinion item further contended that libraries have been largely replaced by Wi-Fi at Starbucks, Amazon Prime, Netflix and other private for-profit resources. Clavin and the library officials called the opinion piece ill-conceived, evidencing a lack of appreciation for the depth and breadth of services, programs, activities and other resources that are provided by local libraries. They also observed that libraries serve as a uniquely vital link to educational services, after school activities and other programs for residents of economically disadvantaged communities where many lack computer and Internet access. Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin, Town Clerk Sylvia Cabana, Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, Oceanside Public Library Director Christina Marra and Oceanside Public Library Assistant Director for Community Services Anthony Iovino joined together at the Oceanside Library to speak out against the op-ed piece and to call upon the public to visit their local libraries, explore and learn.

 

“This is a great opportunity to remind the public of all of the things that our local libraries offer area residents,” stated Clavin. “The opinion piece that was written by a LIU economist missed ‘the mark’ on so many important facts and facets when it comes to the offerings of local libraries. My office has presented hundreds of taxpayer seminars at area libraries, many children get their first introduction to socialization and the joys of reading at libraries, and neighbors attend educational programs, art exhibits and more. Perhaps most important, many children in economically disadvantaged communities are afforded access to after school resources, the Internet and computers that they might not otherwise enjoy.”

 

The officials pointed out a host of programs that are offered at the Oceanside Library, as well as many other public libraries. Of course, the facility offers a vast collection of reading and research materials from novels and reference volumes to “how-to” guides, biographies, historical records and classical literature. Online access and video rentals complement a robust network of library resources such as hard-to-find and rare documents. Art exhibits, lectures, performances, movies and classes abound at the library. Literacy classes, “Baby Playhooray” and “Teens N Tots” are also popular with members of the community. Additionally, Clavin, Cabana and D’Esposito all offer educational lecture seminars at area libraries. Clavin presents programs on how to reduce your taxes, D’Esposito offers lifesaving lectures on how to administer “Narcan” to opioid overdose victims and Cabana has recently brought bi-lingual reading programs to area communities. In fact, Anthony Iovino, Assistant Director for Community Services at the Oceanside Library, was slated to offer a lecture, entitled “An Introduction to Birding”, immediately after the press briefing in response to the Forbes op-ed piece.

 

What’s more, in addition to an enormous collection of books, magazines, newspapers and other publications, many libraries offer a wide array of e-books to borrow for Kindles and tablets. Library cards also offer access to a variety of databases some of which are used for scholarly and ancestry research, as well as educational tools for children that are available both at the library and from your home computer, laptop or tablet. Most libraries also offer free Wi-Fi, as well as computer and printing stations. Additionally, libraries also offer also a giant selection of must-see DVDs and Blu-rays for recent and classic movies as well as music albums and audio books. Library cards also provide patrons with access to free passes, by availability, to a long list of museums and attractions, including the Long Island Children’s Museum, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, and even a free day at the beach with an Empire Pass.

 

“I love our local library; it is part of the very fabric and identity of the Oceanside Community,” said Iovino. “You couldn’t remotely match the expansive collection of programs, services, activities and resources offered at this and other public libraries if you were to try to substitute them with the private sector, for-profit resources discussed by the Forbes’ opinion piece author. More importantly, the social aspects and human interaction that take place here are not available in the private sector.”

 

“The looks on the faces of the children who attend my bi-lingual reading programs at local libraries speaks volumes about the value offered by public libraries better than anything else I can imagine,” said Cabana. “You will only find these types of magical and heartwarming experiences at your local library.”

 

“The natural choice for a location to present my ‘Narcan’ training seminars was the center of our local communities, our public libraries,” stated D’Esposito. “These types of programs, not to mention all of the other programs, services and resources available at your public library, are part and parcel of the quality-of-life experience that we enjoy on Long Island.”

 

“You just can’t put a price tag on the priceless offerings that you can only find at your public library,” concluded Clavin. “What’s more, there is no other place where people can find the enormous array of educational, cultural and social offerings under one roof except for our public libraries. And, our libraries serve as a lifeline for many economically disadvantaged residents when it comes to computer resources, after school activities and a host of programs. I encourage our residents to rediscover their public libraries today.”

 

Visit Receiver Clavin’s webpage

 

Free ‘Pet Fire Rescue Stickers’ Available for Animal Lovers

Carter, a happy and energetic shelter dog who was rescued by Assemblyman Ed Ra, was joined by his adopted “dad” and Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin, to “mark his territory” on Pet Fire Safety Day. The officials announced that “pet fire rescue stickers” will be available through their offices at no cost. The decals, which are to be displayed on the front doors of pet owners’ homes, can alert firefighters and other first responders that a pet resides at the house and may need to be rescued in the event of a fire or other emergency. Clavin and Ra also discussed pet safety tips, noting that 1,000 accidental home fires are started by pets annually. The officials and Carter were joined at a press briefing by a representative of the Franklin Square and Munson Fire Department, as well as animal welfare advocates.

 

“Carter has added a lot of joy to our family since we brought him home from the shelter,” said Ra. “By placing a ‘pet fire rescue’ sticker on my front door, Carter has the best chance to be rescued in the event of a home fire.”

 

In discussions between Clavin and Ra on the issue of Pet Fire Safety Day, the Receiver came up with the idea of producing “pet fire rescue” stickers and distributing them to pet owners at no cost. The officials agreed that the stickers would be an important part of safeguarding pets during emergency fires.

 

“What better way to celebrate our pets on Pet Fire Safety Day than by making ‘pet fire rescue stickers’ available to pet owners at no cost,” said Clavin. “Call our offices today for your sticker—it can be a lifesaver.”

 

The Assemblyman was the sponsor of a resolution that designated July 15th as Pet Fire Safety Day in New York, the same date as National Pet Fire Safety Day. The day was established by the American Kennel Club (AKC), and the AKC is focused on the prevention of fires that can be accidentally started by pets, as well as all measures to safeguard pets and property in the event of a home fire.

 

According to the National Fire Protection Association, approximately 1,000 house fires are started by pets each year. And, the United States Fire Administration estimates that 500,000 pets are affected annually by fires. The officials recommended the following tips to prevent home fires being started by pets:

  • Extinguish Open Flames – Curious pets will investigate cooking appliances, candles or even an open fireplace. Do not leave pets unattended with an open flame burning.
  • Remove Stove Knobs – Remove stove knobs or protect them with safety covers before leaving the house.
  • Consider Flameless Candles – Pets often knock over burning candles. Flameless candles are a safer alternative.
  • Secure Young Pets – Confine young pets to safe areas when you are not home with child safety gates or other safeguards.

 

The pet fire safety stickers that Clavin and Ra are providing to the public can be customized. Pet owners can indicate the type and number of pets at a house. They can even write the name(s) of a pet(s). Pet owners can call Clavin’s Office at (516) 538-1500 or Ra’s office at (516) 535-4095 to secure stickers. Stickers can also be acquired by emailing Clavin at receivermailinglist@tohmail.org.

 

“Pet Fire Safety Day presents an important opportunity for pet lovers to keep their pets and families safe,” said Clavin. “I want to thank Assemblyman Ra for passing a state resolution declaring July 15th as Pet Fire Safety Day.”

 

Visit Receiver Clavin’s webpage

Clavin, Phillips, Ra, Rally with Seniors for Property Tax Equality

Proposal Gives Nassau Seniors Same Property Tax Break as NYC Neighbors

 

Standing with a group of Floral Park senior citizens, Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin, Senator Elaine Phillips, and Assemblyman Ed Ra announced that they are calling for state legislation which would provide property tax parity for senior citizens and persons with disabilities in Nassau County. The officials spoke out in force, demanding that Nassau homeowners be granted the same income eligibility levels for senior citizen property tax exemptions as the Governor has recently signed into law for homeowners in New York City. Joining Clavin, Phillips and Ra at a Floral Park senior couple’s residence for the announcement were Hempstead Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello, Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi and a group of determined senior citizens. Clavin has been rallying seniors and elected officials to sponsor legislative parity for Nassau County seniors since he learned about the increased property tax benefit for the city’s mature homeowners.

 

“Owning a home on Long Island is expensive, especially for senior citizens and people with disabilities, many of whom are living on a fixed income,” stated Clavin. “It’s only right that our Nassau homeowners get the same level of property tax relief as our neighbors in New York City are enjoying. Accordingly, I want to thank Senator Elaine Phillips and Assemblyman Ed Ra for sponsoring legislation that would ‘level the playing field’ for our mature residents by increasing the income eligibility levels for the Senior Citizens Property Tax Exemption in Nassau County. I also am calling for an increase in income eligibility limits for persons with disabilities. What’s more, I want to thank Nassau Legislator Richard Nicolello and Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney for sponsoring ‘home rule messages’ in support of the plan.”

 

The officials explained that Long Island seniors, as well as all mature homeowners across the state, were subject to the same income eligibility limits as New York City neighbors until recently. Indeed, legislation introduced during the 2017-2018 session (S-4628A), which passed both houses of the legislature and has been signed into law by the Governor, increases income eligibility levels for both the Senior Citizen and Disability Property Tax Exemptions in New York City. Clavin approached the other officials and requested state legislative relief after learning about the increase in income eligibility limits for New York City’s Senior Citizens Property Tax Exemption program.

 

“Equity is a key imperative in our state’s legislative system,” stated Phillips. “And, a commitment to fairness demands legislation that would help Nassau’s seniors and people with disabilities by boosting income eligibility levels for the Senior Citizen Property Tax Exemption. I am proud to announce that I will sponsor legislation to remedy this inequity.”

 

“Working with Senator Phillips, Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin and Legislator Nicolello, we will bring property tax fairness to Nassau County,” said Ra. “I am dedicated to working with my colleagues in government to raise senior citizen and disability income eligibility levels when it comes to the Senior Citizen Property Tax Exemption.”

 

“Senior citizens, many of whom are living on a fixed income, are struggling to ‘make ends meet’ on Long Island,” said King Sweeney. “When Don Clavin brought this issue to my attention and asked me to sponsor Hempstead Town’s participation in an enhanced Senior Citizen Property Tax Exemption program, I eagerly accepted the task.”

 

In fact, the newly approved law boosts income eligibility levels for New York City seniors and persons with disabilities who seek an exemption by as much as 72.4 percent. For example, the pre-existing income ceiling of $29,000 for a full 50 percent exemption (the highest exemption level) is raised to $50,000 under the law. And, the maximum income level that a New York City senior may achieve and still be eligible for an exemption has been increased to $58,399 from $37,399.

 

“I want to thank Don Clavin for identifying a tremendous disparity in the treatment of Nassau’s senior citizens, compared to city homeowners, when it comes to property tax exemption income eligibility limits,” said Nicolello. “I am proud to sponsor a ‘home rule’ message in the Nassau Legislature which will support Senator Phillips and Assemblyman Ra as they fight to secure increased Senior Citizen Property Tax Exemption income eligibility limits for Nassau’s homeowners like those currently enjoyed by their New York City neighbors.”

 

Prior to the newly minted legislation that boosted income limits for NYC’s seniors, the City’s income eligibility limits were identical to those that are applicable to Long Island property owners. The law (Chapter 131 of the RPTL), which was signed into effect by the Governor on July 25, 2017, provides for the City of New York to “opt in.” Before the passage of the new law, the Senior Citizen Property Tax Exemption income eligibility limits for New York City included a maximum adjusted gross income of $37,399, which provided a 5 percent exemption. Those with an adjusted gross income of $29,000 or less qualified for a 50 percent exemption. And, the law provided for eight incremental income levels between the base and the maximum eligibility amounts, each carrying a graduated exemption percentage based on income. The following table details the previous income/exemption amounts for New York City homeowners (these amounts remain in force for Long Island and the rest of New York State):

 

 

Income Exemption
$29,000 or LESS 50 percent
$29,001 to $29,999 45 percent
$30,000 to $30,999 40 percent
$31,000 to $31,999 35 percent
$32,000 to $32,899 30 percent
$32,900 to $33,799 25 percent
$33,800 to $34,699 20 percent
$34,700 to $35,599 15 percent
$35,600 to $36,499 10 percent
$36,500 to $37,399   5 percent

 

 

New York City’s income/exemption amounts under the newly adopted state legislation have risen to the following levels:

 

Income Exemption
$50,000 or LESS 50 percent
$50,001 to $50,999 45 percent
$51,000 to $51,999 40 percent
$52,000 to $52,999 35 percent
$53,000 to $53,899 30 percent
$53,900 to $54,799 25 percent
$54,800 to $55,699 20 percent
$55,700 to $56,599 15 percent
$56,600 to $57,499 10 percent
$57,500 to $58,399   5 percent

 

 

The officials called the current income limits unrealistic and said they have not kept pace with the cost of living on Long Island. In fact, federal HUD guidelines term a household income of $56,700 as “low income” on Long Island. Clavin, Phillips, Ra and Nicolello observed that the last time the income eligibility limits were raised was in 2009. Prior to that, income limits were raised in three successive years (2007, 2008, 2009). Further, the representatives noted that any new legislation could include “opt in” provisions for local governments and empower municipalities with the authority to adjust income levels or exemption levels within maximum cap amounts in order to address the budgetary constraints of individual local governments.

 

“I think we can all agree that it’s time to raise income eligibility levels for this property tax exemption program,” said Phillips. “Our Nassau neighbors have watched costs increase since 2009, and they deserve an increase in income eligibility levels that reflects the increases in our cost of living.”

 

“Many senior citizens and persons with disabilities are struggling to make ends meet, and this legislation would be a huge help for mature residents,” said Ra. “I want to thank Don Clavin and Senator Phillips for their efforts on behalf of senior citizens.”

 

“As the son of a veteran, I am enthusiastic that more people like my mom and dad will be able to take advantage of the Senior Citizen Property Tax Exemption,” said Mayor Longobardi. “I want to thank Receiver Clavin, Senator Phillips, Assemblyman Ed Ra and the other officials for working to help Nassau County seniors make ends meet.”

 

“Our senior citizens and persons with disabilities should be treated just like New York City’s ‘golden-aged’ homeowners when it comes to property tax fairness,” concluded Clavin. “I want to join those who would be affected by this legislation in thanking Senator Phillips and Assemblyman Ra for taking the fight to Albany as they present legislation that will secure property tax parity between Nassau’s senior homeowners and our neighbors in New York City.”

 

Visit Receiver Clavin’s webpage

Tax Receivers Tell Homeowners, “Don’t be Scared by ‘Tax Foreclosure’ Letter”

Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin, joined by North Hempstead Receiver Charles Berman and Oyster Bay Receiver James Stefanich, is responding to dozens of scared homeowners who have called the officials’ offices after receiving an ominous letter from a law firm that warns property owners that “a third-party has paid your taxes…” and “…time is limited, and you need to take immediate action to keep your home.” The officials stated that the letters unduly and unnecessarily alarm homeowners, many of whom are not in imminent danger of having their homes foreclosed, seized or otherwise taken from the rightful property owners. At the same time, the three Receivers provided no-cost information and advice to property owners who have received the “tax foreclosure” letters and may be seeking information on their property tax status and looking for advice on how to satisfy any past-due property tax payments.

 

“My office has received several calls from homeowners who were on the verge of tears, worried that their homes were going to be snatched from them after they received a very alarming letter from a law firm warning them that they must take immediate action to keep their homes,” stated Clavin. “My office has researched the properties of those who have called my office and many are NOT in any imminent danger of losing their homes. I think it is wrong to scare people in this way, and that is why we are sharing important information on this matter with area homeowners.”

 

Clavin, Berman and Stefanich said that property owners who have received the alarming letter should first call the Nassau County Treasurer’s Office to determine if there are past due taxes that have accrued. The Treasurer’s Office can provide exact amounts of any arrearage and furnish directions on making payments. They also can explain how certain tax liens that may exist can be satisfied upon payment of past due taxes to the Treasurer.

 

“Many times, resolving the issue of past-due taxes can be as simple as arranging for the payment of those taxes and any applicable penalties to the Nassau County Treasurer,” stated Berman. “I urge any homeowners who have received a ‘foreclosure letter,’ like those that have alarmed area neighbors recently, to call the Nassau County Treasurer to determine if there are past-due amounts and to arrange to bring property tax payments up to date if necessary.”

 

The officials also mentioned that other resources are available to homeowners who may have questions related to tax liens, including the issues of mortgage default and bank foreclosure, among other areas of concern. Included in the list of resources are:

 

  • Nassau County Treasurer’s Office – Contact for information on the payment of past due taxes. Call (516) 571-2090 or visit the office at 1 West Street, Mineola, NY Residents can also access the Treasurer’s Office through Nassau County’s website (www.nassaucountyny.gov).
  • Nassau County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service – A free-of-charge service that provides lawyer referrals for a full range of legal issues. Call (516) 747-4832.
  • Org – A service for low and moderate income individuals that offers local free legal aid programs, answers questions and assists with legal problems. Visit online at lawhelp.org.
  • New York Legal Assistant Group (NYLAG) – Offers various programs in local communities, providing free legal services to those in need. Visit NYLAG at nylag.org or call (212) 613-5000.
  • HOPE NOW – A non-profit entity that has housing counselors who can offer advice on options that can avoid foreclosure. Call (888) 995-HOPE.
  • New York State Department of Financial Services Homeowner Resource Center—Provides guidance for homeowners facing foreclosure. The office can be reached at (800) 342-3736.

 

“There are resources and information available for those who have fallen behind on property tax payments or people who have related concerns,” said Stefanich. “We don’t want to see anyone become frightened by a ‘foreclosure letter.’ By contacting the Nassau County Treasurer, you can resolve many tax delinquency situations.”

 

“It is not right to send homeowners a letter that frightens them by stating, ‘…time is limited, and you need to take immediate action to keep your home,’” said Clavin. “We are asking homeowners not to be scared if they receive such a letter. Rather, we are suggesting that homeowners contact the Nassau County Treasurer if they believe that they have past due taxes and want to resolve any amounts that may have fallen in arrears.”

 

Visit Receiver of Taxes Clavin’s webpage

Clavin Declares Victory as Nassau Assessor Reverses Plan to Halt Mailing Property Value Notices to Homeowners

Declaring victory for government transparency and local homeowners, Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin announced that Nassau’s Assessment Department has reversed its plan to halt mailing Nassau neighbors’ property value notices, the foundation upon which residents’ taxes are based, after the Receiver and angry senior citizens assailed the county’s policy decision. Additionally, Clavin thanked the Nassau County Legislature’s Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello for drafting legislation that will mandate that the “Notices of Tentative Assessment” continue to be mailed to property owners. The Assessment Department’s poorly thought-out scheme to cancel mailing home values would have forced homeowners to seek the data on the Internet, creating a significant hardship for many senior citizens, the economically disadvantaged and others who lack access to computers and on-line service. Joining Clavin at the press announcement were Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello, Legislator Laura Schaefer and a group of grateful senior citizens from Wantagh.

 

“Nassau’s assessment system is broken, and the only thing worse than a dysfunctional tax system is trying to keep homeowners’ property values a secret,” said Clavin. “I am happy that the Nassau Assessment Department has reconsidered its plan to halt the mailing of homeowners’ property values to Nassau residents. This is a victory for government transparency. I want to also thank Nassau County Legislature’s Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello and the majority legislators for crafting legislation that will mandate the mailing of ‘Notices of Tentative Assessed Value.’”

 

On June 1, 2018, Clavin mailed the Acting Nassau County Assessor, demanding that his department abandon a plan to curtail the long-standing practice of mailing residents an annual Notice of Tentative Assessed Value. The Receiver observed that the scheme to restrict access to property value information to the Assessment Department’s website would place senior citizens, those with limited incomes and others without Internet access at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to making important decisions based on home values. Further, Clavin said that the maneuver, which would only continue mailing tax assessment updates to those who made written requests through the U.S. Postal Service, would be a serious defeat for transparency and accountability, thereby further eroding trust and confidence in the county’s much maligned assessment system. Finally, Clavin called the timing of the effort “totally misguided” as Nassau’s Assessment Department is poised to embark on a major property tax assessment revaluation project.

 

Almost immediately, Nassau County Legislature’s Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello and Legislator Laura Schaefer responded to Clavin’s call for action. The legislative duo has drafted legislation that will mandate the mailing of the Notices of Tentative Assessed Value to the county’s property owners, leaving no discretion to the county’s Assessment Department on the matter.

 

“I want to thank Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin for bringing this issue to everyone’s attention,” said Nicolello. “I am proud that we can help Nassau homeowners by crafting legislation that will mandate the continued mailing of crucial home value data to Nassau homeowners. Our neighbors deserve unrestricted access to this information in the interest of government transparency and accountability.”

 

“I was pleased to stand with Don Clavin and senior citizens on June 1st to demand that the Nassau County Assessment Department provide complete transparency on its assessment of residents’ properties,” stated Schaefer. “Mailing property value information to homeowners is the right thing to do. Access to home values is critical to making important decisions on issues such as challenging property tax assessments.”

 

The Receiver and several seniors noted that most residents were unaware of the Nassau Assessment Department’s plan to curtail the mailing of the home value notices. Clavin said that this fact came as no surprise to him since the information regarding the termination of mailed assessment valuation notices was “buried” in the January 2018 Tentative Assessed Value notification. In fact, the words “…the Department of Assessment will no longer produce mail Notices of Tentative Assessed Value…” were buried in a 400-word document in which residents were solely focused on information concerning their latest “tentative assessed value.”

 

While the “seemingly secret” notification that the mailing of home values would be discontinued resulted in significant frustration, the “taxpayer-unfriendly” method of dealing with exceptions to the new policy was equally exasperating. The County Assessor didn’t advise readers to whom their requests to continue receiving assessment value notices by mail should be addressed. It also failed to offer convenient alternatives, such as Internet or phone-based options, to request the maintenance of Notices of Tentative Assessed Value by U.S. Mail.

 

“I strongly believe that the county Assessment Department’s decision to halt the mailing of home values to residents and the complicated and difficult steps required to receive an exception to this policy were part of an intentional effort to limit access to information,” said Clavin. “It would have especially hurt our most vulnerable residents the hardest—senior citizens, the poor and others without Internet access. Thankfully, Rich Nicolello has taken steps to ensure that the County Assessor will never again be able to restrict access to property value information for Nassau homeowners.”

 

“As Nassau County embarks upon a major property revaluation, it’s more important than ever that homeowners have greater access, not less, when it comes to their property values,” concluded Clavin. “By working together, we can enhance government transparency, openness and accountability.”

 

Visit Receiver Clavin’s webpage

Clavin Calls On County Assessor To Be Transparent On Home Values

Tells Nassau, “Don’t Stop Mailing Assessments To Homeowners”; Plan Penalizes Seniors, The Poor & Others Without Internet Access

 

“Keeping homeowners informed about property assessments is the foundation of a transparent, accountable and forthright property tax system,” announced Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin as he called upon Nassau County’s Acting Assessor to abandon a plan to curtail the long-standing practice of mailing residents an annual Notice of Tentative Assessed Value. Clavin, who was joined by Nassau County Legislator Laura Schaefer and a group of annoyed senior citizens at a media briefing, stated that the scheme to restrict access to property value information to the Assessment Department’s website would place senior citizens, those with limited incomes and others without Internet access at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to making important decisions based on home values. Further, Clavin says that the maneuver, which would only continue mailing tax assessment updates to those who made written requests through the U.S. Postal Service, would be a serious defeat for transparency and accountability, thereby further eroding trust and confidence in the county’s much maligned assessment system. Finally, Clavin called the timing of the effort “totally misguided” as Nassau’s Assessment Department is poised to embark on a major property tax assessment revaluation project.

 

“Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for Nassau County taxpayers regarding the Assessment Department’s chronically broken reassessment system, the county is planning to halt the mailing of Notices of Tentative Assessed Values to homeowners,” stated Clavin. “What’s worse, the overwhelming majority of property owners have no idea that the Assessment Department has this taxpayer-hostile initiative up its sleeve. I have written to Nassau County’s Acting Assessor and have strongly urged him to reverse the plan to curtail the mailing of important property value information to residents.

 

During the press briefing on the “assessed value notification” issue, Clavin recounted his experiences with local taxpayers to underscore the need for more information and better communication on the part of the Nassau County Department of Assessment. The Receiver detailed his practice at tax forums of asking property owners if they were aware of the County Assessor’s plan to stop mailing the updated annual assessment information on their homes. In response to his inquiries, Clavin indicated that virtually nobody in attendance was aware of this fact. What’s more, the overwhelming majority were not aware that they received notification. Clavin said that these facts came as no surprise to him since the information regarding the termination of mailed assessment valuation notices was “buried” in the January 2018 Tentative Assessed Value notification. In fact, the words “…the Department of Assessment will no longer produce mail Notices of Tentative Assessed Value…” were buried in a 400-word document in which residents were solely focused on information concerning their latest “tentative assessed value.”

 

“The Nassau Department of Assessment needs to do much more to communicate its intention to stop mailing ‘Notices of Tentative Assessed Value’ to homeowners,” stated the Receiver. “Residents are unaware of the plan, and offering more information, not less, is critical if the County Assessor hopes to restore any trust in its troubled assessment system.”

 

“Unfortunately, the Assessment Department did not advise the County Legislature of its plan to halt the mailing of important property value data to Nassau’s residents,” stated Schaefer. “In support of transparency and accountability, I am calling upon the County’s Acting Assessor to continue mailing this information to homeowners.”

 

The Receiver is also concerned over the Assessment Department’s methodology in curtailing Tentative Assessed Value mailings to homeowners. While the predominant business model and government practice with respect to “opting-out” of mailings involves customers and/or taxpayers making an affirmative request to go paperless, the County Assessor is simply cutting taxpayers off from mailed communication unless the taxpayer specifically requests to continue receiving mailed notifications in writing via U.S. Mail. Indeed, the Receiver’s new e-Billing initiative allows taxpayers to affirmatively “opt-out” of mailed notifications, selecting to receive personalized email notifications.

 

“Nobody else in business, government or industry merely curtails the mailing of important notices to customers,” stated Clavin. “Businesses, public utilities and governments all give the customer the courtesy of requesting that they formally take action to switch from ‘snail mail’ to email. Sadly, the county’s Assessment Department is not even replacing its U.S. Mail notification with emails.”

 

In fact, the obscure “mail cancellation” notification that was provided to residents in January of 2018 did not advise readers to whom their requests to continue receiving assessment value notices by mail should be addressed. It also failed to offer convenient alternatives, such as Internet or phone-based options, to request the maintenance of Notices of Tentative Assessed Value by U.S. Mail. And, residents will have to navigate an arcane website to access their Notices of Tentative Assessed Value rather than receiving an email. Clavin contends that the “user-unfriendly” steps required to continue receiving U.S. Mail assessment information, coupled with the lack of comprehensive public notification, appears to be a conscious effort to limit access to information, and he indicated that it will especially hurt senior citizens, the economically disadvantaged and others without Internet access.

 

“One can only conclude that this entire initiative was done purposefully in an effort to limit access to information that homeowners need and deserve,” said Clavin. “This maneuver will hit the most vulnerable the hardest—senior citizens, the poor and others without Internet access. This is a cruel and unwelcome initiative.”

 

Clavin said that the timing of the plan to curtail mailed Notices of Tentative Assessed Value could not be worse, considering the county’s new property tax assessment revaluation project is about to commence.

 

“As Nassau County embarks upon its new revaluation update, it is more important than ever to restore confidence and trust in Nassau’s assessment system,” said Clavin. “Limiting access to assessed values does just the opposite. I am calling upon Nassau’s Acting Assessor to please restore mailed Notices of Tentative Assessed Values, allowing those who choose to ‘go paperless’ the ability to expressly take steps to ‘opt-out’ of mail notification.”

 

“Let’s work together to enhance government transparency, openness and accountability,” concluded the Receiver. “By restoring mailed Notices of Tentative Assessed Values, alongside a comprehensive property revaluation project, we can earn the public’s trust and gain their confidence.”

 

Visit Receiver Clavin’s webpage

Clavin To Host First-Time Homebuyer Seminars

Learn About Mortgages, Taxes, Inspections & More

 

Buying your first home can be an intimidating and overwhelming experience. However, Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin is about to make the experience much simpler and less scary. Joined by financial expert Anthony Genova, who boasts almost 15 years of experience in presenting first-time homebuyer programs with a major international financial institution, Clavin will explain “need-to-know” information on mortgages, property taxes, home inspections, tax exemptions the new federal tax code and more.

 

“The purchase of a first home represents the accomplishment of a major life goal for many,” stated Clavin. “At the same time, the process can be intricate, presenting financial, legal and other hurdles. Accordingly, our seminars will provide answers to common questions, offer valuable information, help purchasers avoid common pitfalls and possibly even save purchasers money as they acquire their first residence.”

 

One of the most common areas of concern that has developed for first-time homebuyers centers around the new federal tax code and how it will impact them, especially with regard to the code’s limits on the deductibility of property tax payments on income tax returns. Other areas that will be addressed at the First-time Homebuyer Seminars include mortgages, inspections, title insurance, contracts, tax payment information/options and closings. Those in attendance will also obtain details on their eligibility for tax exemptions, tax information, tips on how to challenge home assessments and information on local governments, including the town, county and school districts.

 

Clavin announced that it is a great time to purchase a home with mortgage rates still at reasonable levels. Also, the Receiver noted that many homeowners are looking to purchase now as home prices are on the rise. In fact, the closing price for homes in Nassau County has risen by 8 percent year-over-year as of March, according to MSLI (Multiple Listing Service of Long Island, Inc.).

 

“I am happy to partner with Don Clavin to make the home purchasing experience more rewarding and less challenging for first-time homebuyers,” stated Genova. “Helping purchasers navigate this process is rewarding, and we are offering valuable information that will help people avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes as they establish their first home.”

 

The seminars will be held on the following dates:

  • May 14th, 7 p.m., Uniondale Public Library (400 Uniondale Ave., Uniondale)
  • May 16th, 7 p.m., Elmont Public Library (700 Hempstead Tpke., Elmont)
  • May 18th, 7 p.m., Valley Stream Village Hall (123 S. Central Ave., Valley Stream)
  • June 11th, 7 p.m., Oceanside Library (30 Davison Ave., Oceanside)
  • June 13th, 7 p.m., Merrick Library (2279 Merrick Ave., Merrick)
  • June 14th, 7 p.m., Levittown Public Library (1 Bluegrass La., Levittown)

 

For more information on the upcoming seminars, please call the Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Office at (516) 538-1500.

 

“Welcome to America’s largest township to all of our first-time homebuyers,” concluded Clavin. “By attending one of these informative seminars, you will be taking a great first step in becoming a member of our township’s family of property owners.”

 

Visit Receiver of Taxes Clavin’s webpage

Second Half School Tax Deadline Approaches, Clavin Offers Convenient Payment Options

Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin is reminding taxpayers of the array of convenient payment options available to them as the May 10th deadline approaches to pay the Second Half 2017-18 School Tax. Beginning on May 1st through May 10th, Clavin is extending office hours, setting up mobile and satellite offices throughout the Town of Hempstead and opening the Tax Office’s EZ-Pay Drive-Thru. What’s more, taxpayers also have the option to pay their bills online at any time.

 

“Paying your taxes may not be fun, but we work hard to make the process as convenient as possible for our taxpayers,” Clavin said. “When the deadline approaches, we try to help those with busy schedules by extending hours and opening our drive thru at our Hempstead Tax Office, reminding the public of our online payment system and bringing our mobile and satellite offices to communities across America’s largest township.”

 

On business days between May 1st and May 10th (May 1st , 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th), extended hours of operation (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) will be in effect for tax payments at the main tax office located at 200 North Franklin Street in Hempstead. When making payments in person, please bring the entire tax bill; do not detach payment stubs from the bill.

 

In addition, the EZ-Pay Drive Thru Payment Window will be open behind the main tax office (follow the signs on the corner of North Franklin and Bedell Streets) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (May 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th). The Drive-Thru Window accepts only check and money order payments.

 

Satellite offices at Rock Hall Museum (199 Broadway, Lawrence) and Levittown Hall (201 Levittown Parkway, Hicksville) serve communities that are a distance from the Tax Office. Satellite offices will be open to receive checks and money orders for tax payments from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 4th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th.

 

The Mobile Tax Office is scheduled to visit four locations from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Please note that only checks or money orders are accepted at the Mobile Tax Office. The Mobile Tax Office locations and dates are:

 

May 1st – Merrick Senior Center, 2550 Clubhouse Rd., Merrick

May 2nd – Town Parking Lot O-3, Davison Ave., Oceanside (directly across from Oceanside Library)

May 3rd – Elmont Memorial Library, 700 Hempstead Turnpike, Elmont

May 4th – Franklin Square Senior Center, 1182 Martha Pl., Franklin Square

 

Online tax payments may be made via credit card or e-check by logging onto the town’s website at www.TOH.LI and following the “Receiver of Taxes” link to “Online Tax Payments”. Credit card and e-check payments can also be made by phone by calling 1-833-378-1236. Payment by credit card will incur a 2.3 % service fee, with a minimum charge of $1.50 for all credit card transactions. A flat fee of $0.90 will be charged for electronic check payments. VISA Personal Debit transactions will incur a flat rate fee of $3.95 per transaction. Hempstead Town receives no portion of these service fees which are charged by eGov Strategies, the company which processes the transactions.

 

While on the Town of Hempstead website, taxpayers can register for e-Billing, and sign up to receive future tax bills electronically via email instead of through the U.S. Mail. Recently implemented, the e-Billing service will allow taxpayers to go “paperless” and receive their tax bills electronically, while saving the town production and mailing costs associated with traditional tax bills. Visit bit.ly/tohebill to register.

 

“By offering convenient payment options, whether online or in-person, we’re dedicated to providing top-notch services for our constituents,” Clavin said.

 

For event announcements and important updates, follow the Town of Hempstead Receiver of Taxes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@tohreceiver). For further information, please visit the town’s website at www.toh.li/tohtax or call the Office of Receiver of Taxes at (516) 538-1500.

 

Visit Receiver of Taxes Clavin’s webpage

Clavin, Miller Propose Enhanced Property Tax Break for ‘Handicapable’ Home Improvements

Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin and State Assemblywoman Missy Miller have announced a state legislative proposal that would enhance a property tax break for property owners who make home improvements to their houses to accommodate family members and other household occupants with physical challenges or handicapping conditions, as well as those who are legally blind. The officials discussed the exemption at Miller’s home, along with her son Oliver, who confronts physical challenges and is blind.

 

“The costs of making home improvements and renovations can be significant,” observed Clavin. “Those costs can be dramatically higher when highly specialized improvements and renovations are required in order to accommodate people with physical challenges. It is incumbent on government to do its part to assist taxpayers who confront these substantial costs, and an enhanced property tax exemption for those improvements is one way in which we can help. I want to thank Assemblywoman Missy Miller for sponsoring legislation on this issue in Albany.”

 

The legislation that Clavin and Miller are looking to amend is known as the “Home Improvement Tax Reduction for the Physically Disabled” exemption. The law currently permits cities, villages, towns, counties and school districts to offer a partial property tax exemption to eligible property owners of one-, two- or three-family homes who make qualifying home improvements. The amendment would expand the exemption, which applies to renovations that facilitate and accommodate the use or accessibility of the house, to include special district taxes. Some special districts that would be able to “opt in” on the expanded exemption include water districts, sanitation districts, library districts and fire districts, among others.

 

“The cost of home renovations required to accommodate people with physical challenges can be staggering,” said Miller. “It’s time to expand this exemption to include special district taxes so that families confronting renovation costs to make their homes more accessible can receive the maximum property tax relief possible.”

 

Under the law, the full value of the qualifying home improvements is exempt from property taxes for participating governmental jurisdictions (cities, towns, counties, schools, villages). Adding special districts to the taxing jurisdictions that could “opt in” on the exemption could result in no assessment increases for property tax purposes on home improvements designed to accommodate house occupants who have physical challenges.

 

Clavin called prospective additional tax savings significant for affected homeowners under the legislation. Currently, 144 Hempstead Town homeowners receive the Home Improvement Tax Reduction for the Physically Disabled exemption. A typical home in the town could witness additional savings of over $650 or 25 percent on its General Tax bill by adding special districts to the local government entities that participate in the exemption program. The current total tax savings to homeowners under the program is $252,342. The additional maximum tax cost exposure to special districts if the program is expanded amounts to $51,282.

 

“The potential savings we are talking about are genuine and significant,” observed Clavin. Added Miller, “This could mean the difference between being able to make an important home improvement or not for the benefit of a physically challenged family member.”

 

Clavin observed that his inspiration for coming up with the tax break proposal was the Assemblywoman’s son, Oliver. Oliver has defied the odds in his battle against the ravages of a traumatic brain injury, physical challenges, blindness, cognitive disabilities and a host of medical issues. Oliver also motivated Miller to successfully lobby the state Senate and Assembly for legislation that provided her son and thousands of others access to medical marijuana.

 

“Oliver, along with his mother Missy, was my inspiration in developing this proposal,” stated Clavin. “They are both compelling figures, and they have inspired me to come up with a proposal that will ease the financial burdens of families coping with the enormous expenses associated with specialized home improvements for people with physical challenges.”

 

The officials noted that the expansion of this exemption would only minimally impact the local tax base as it would not significantly reduce existing assessments/property taxes for affected homes. Rather, the legislation would primarily shield new improvements from increased assessments/taxes for eligible properties.

 

“This exemption will help people with physical challenges while having minimal impact on the existing tax base,” stated Clavin. “It is a ‘win-win’ measure for persons with disabilities and our communities as a whole.”

 

The types of home improvements or renovations that typically qualify for this exemption include the removal of architectural barriers, complete house accessibility renovations, new rooms, additions, elevators, kitchen and bathroom renovations that facilitate or accommodate accessibility, access ramps, entry and egress upgrades, automated doors, among other home improvements.

 

The costs associated with removing physical barriers at the home are substantial. For example, the average hydraulic or pneumatic home elevator can cost over $30,000 (including installation and related structural alterations). Additionally, kitchen and bathroom renovations necessary for handicapped accessibility can total $40,000 according to fixr.com. Further, the cost of home additions can far exceed $120,000, according to the town’s Building Department.

 

“It’s clear that we need to take legislative action and enhance this valuable property tax exemption for people with physical challenges,” stated Miller. “We need to take a strong stand to help people who are burdened with costs associated with making their homes accessible for family members with special requirements.”

 

The Home Improvement Tax Reduction for the Physically Disabled applies to persons who have a permanent physical impairment which substantially limits one or more of such individual’s major life activities. It also applies to individuals who have obtained a certificate from the New York State Commission for the Blind stating that such individual is legally blind.

 

“I want to thank Assemblywoman Missy Miller for leading this fight to enhance an important property tax break for people with physical challenges,” concluded Clavin. “The costs of upgrading a home to accommodate persons with disabilities have soared, and we need to amend our state legislation to provide needed tax relief.”

 

Visit Receiver of Taxes Clavin’s webpage