As legal experts catch on to systemic property tax fraud a New York business icon packs up his bags and business for the sunnier climate of Florida.
Our broken property tax system may not just be inconvenient and flawed. It may be fraud at its very worst. Even some of the wealthiest New Yorkers and businesses have had enough, and they are calling it quits. What’s happening? Who can help? What can we do to change it?
The Property Tax Fraud Epidemic
Legal services have caught on to a very scary trend. Counties and tax authorities in at least a number of states seem to be resorting to stealing properties from under the feet of their residents to put more money in their own pockets.
In the past we’ve seen New Yorkers and Long Islanders lose homes for less than $100 in erroneous property tax fees. In Arizona this property tax abuse recently meant a disabled veteran losing his home for $236 in property tax fees. He had tried to pay, but was given the runaround. The home was sold to an investor at auction for a profit.
In Michigan, experts see a new housing crisis in play, with an affordable housing shortage of over 50,000 units in just one county. There one young female entrepreneur and her father tried to work their way to a better life by investing in rental property. A $144 shortfall in their property tax payment turned into a foreclosure and the county reselling the property for a profit of more than $100,000.
In Florida, at least the law is that if a property is foreclosed on, any proceeds above the debt owed are to be given to the owner. That may be limiting this type of property tax fraud there.
Finding A Safe Haven in the South
While Long Islanders continue to suffer from high and quickly rising property tax assessments and bills, Florida residents enjoy much lower taxes, and in some cases even reductions in property tax rates. Plus, they have strong homestead exemptions to limit increases and protect their assets.
That hasn’t gone unnoticed by savvy New Yorkers. We;ve already seen a slew of neighbors and businesses flock south to escape this state’s predatory tax system. Now billionaire investor and philanthropist Carl Icahn has announced he is making the move too. He has offered his employees $50,000 each to move with him.
NY Is Worth Saving
New York is still worth saving. Unfortunately, if it has become unaffordable to even live in Arizona and Detroit, then we know the same has to be true of New York. 25% of more of new condos continue to go unsold. Many apartments throughout the boroughs which were recently built as ‘affordable’ housing for tax breaks for developers still go vacant, because they simply aren’t affordable.
New York is worth saving. The legacy of families who have lived here for many years is worth saving. It will take conscious effort and patience. It will take constantly challenging your annual property taxes to keep your home affordable while you stand up for what’s right and an end to property tax fraud and abuse. You can stay, and still go spend your winters in sunny Florida. Though, make sure you aren’t overpaying on your taxes and giving more fuel to the system that can be used against you.