Spring into Tax Savings

Spring has sprung and so has tax grievance season in Westchester.  That’s when homeowners come out of the woodwork with dreams of reducing their property taxes.  While the filing deadline has passed for the villages, the deadline for the towns and most cities in Westchester is just a few short months away on June 16, 2015.

Westchester Tax Grievance

Yet, the landscape is different this year and commonplace reductions will not be as easily won as in past years.  The reason is that many municipalities undertook market re-assessment projects in recent years:  Mamaroneck in 2013; Scarsdale in 2014; and Ossining this year for the first time in 43 years.  The revaluations have resulted in a seismic shift with lower tax bills for some and shockingly higher assessments for others.  The reality is that other than the rare exception, your property’s assessed value is now closer to the realized market value if your town has just undergone the reassessment process.

The process is easy and costs minimal compared to the savings which are often realized.  To file at the local level costs nothing.  Tax grievance attorneys generally charge a contingency fee, meaning that you pay nothing if your taxes are not reduced.  The only initial expense is the appraisal which must be done, generally less than $600 depending on your location.

Many homeowners try to employ self-help in filing the grievance application, but it’s worth retaining an attorney from the start.  If your application is denied then the tax grievance attorney will file a court appeal on your behalf if he or she is already on board.

It is also important to keep in mind that most municipalities in Westchester base your taxes on the prior year’s assessment, so if your town’s grievance deadline is June 16th for the 2015 tax roll, any reduction will not be realized until your 2016 taxes.  Therefore, don’t delay because prospective savings are still a year away.

Your taxes will not increase simply because you file a grievance application and lower property taxes can be a great asset if trying to sell your house in Westchester or anywhere else in the New York market.

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Westchester attorney says get Roxana home now!

American journalist Roxana Saberi sits in an Iranian jail, the focal point of a diplomatic shell game between the United States and Iran. CNN reports the head of Iran’s judiciary has ordered a “careful and speedy appeal process” for Saberi,

Former beauty queen, a spy.  Really?

Former beauty queen, a spy. Really?

who was convicted of spying for the United States.

Saberi’s biggest mistake was allowing her journalist credentials to expire and staying behind to continue reporting. As anyone who’s ever been a journalist knows – that’s called dedication – it’s an adrenalin rush unlike any other – the ability to expose and uncover a nation’s dark secrets to the world. In this country we praise such journalism. In Iran, they jail you.

Both the Committee to Protect Journalists and Asian American Journalists Association have worked tirelessly to bring Roxana’s plight to the forefront of global news desks. Maybe the Obama administration needs to get an army of journalists together.

Now, Ms. Saberi faces eight years behind bars and has 20 days to appeal….or she may still be pardoned in a diplomatic move. She’s a bargaining chip for the Obama administration, no matter how you slice it. However, if you listen to Obama’s comments on her conviction, you don’t get a warm and fuzzy feeling. He looks like he’s still playing “catch up”

Weigh in below – should the U.S. intervene to win release for Saberi?

Westchester attorney awakens to American journalist convicted of spying

The first thing I did was check the headlines today and was surprised to see that American journalist, Roxana Saberi, was convicted of spying in Iran. The former Miss Dakota was sentenced to eight years in an Iranian jail, which seems to me a life sentence. That cannot be easy on anyone, let alone a former beauty queen. I imagine that Roxana’s only crime was staying behind to report from Iran long after her journalist permit/visa expired.

American journalist charged with spying in Tehran

American journalist convicted of spying in Tehran

This is among the first big diplomatic challenges for the Obama Administration. While the political bigwigs spoke out against the charges in the past, maybe they should have done more before it got to this point. Now, a young woman, a journalist who reported on the dark side of life in the middle east, has become a sad part of this long drawn out strife.