Tax Certiorari & Condemnation

Stephen Davis, New York Tax Certiorari

The McCarthy Fingar Team

McCarthy Fingar maintains a reputation in White Plain and Westchester and throughout the New York metropolitan region as a leading law firm in the Tax Certiorari & Condemnation field.  Our lawyers represent owners of income producing and development real estate to redress their grievances against various governmental and municipal entities. In the area of tax certiorari law (real property assessment appeals), McCarthy Fingar’s lawyers seek assessment and tax reduction, along with tax refunds, for clients owning shopping centers, office buildings, apartment buildings and industrial real estate. In the area of condemnation, our attorneys seek compensation for our clients resulting from either a “taking” by eminent domain or improper over-regulation that impairs the value of a client’s improved and/or unimproved property.

The lawyers in McCarthy Fingar’s Tax Certiorari and Condemnation group, supplemented by the expertise of our Commercial Litigation and Appellate Practice groups, have tried or settled tax certiorari and condemnation cases throughout the Hudson Valley Region.

For assessment reductions, we pursue our clients’ rights before the assessor, municipal board of review, or, when necessary, the New York Supreme Court. When the government or public authorities take property, McCarthy Fingar pursues our clients’ interest either through settlement with the condemning authority or, when necessary, at the State Court of Claims or the New York Supreme Court.

Assessment Grievance or Protest

The assessment review process renews itself annually with a tentative assessment, followed by a protest opportunity by filing an assessment grievance or protest with the municipal Board of Review. We follow with a court proceeding (tax certiorari). Whether at protest time, or thereafter, most often McCarthy Fingar achieves assessment reductions for our clientele through settlement long before we reach the trial phase.

Settlement or Trial

The settlement or trial process consists of extensive preparation to achieve the most favorable result. Using our years of experience, the firm’s internal people prepare a work-up of value. For income producing property, we capitalize net income to achieve an estimated value. This means that we determine the rate of return an investor seeks from his real estate investment, leading to a mathematical answer to the question, “What is the property worth to achieve that percentage return on the investment?” Our approach represents a scaled down appraisal, without the expense. We then present our work-up to the assessor, many of whom we previously have conducted negotiations on multiple other tax certiorari matters. For condemnations, most often we estimate value on the basis of recent comparable sales (comps), with appropriate adjustments. In most instances for both tax certioraris and condemnations, we attain favorable results – that is, fair compensation – without a trial.

McCarthy Fingar’s Representative Cases

If dissatisfied with settlement offers, for both tax certioraris and condemnations, the lawyers in McCarthy Fingar’s Tax Certiorari and Condemnation group do not hesitate to take the case to trial. The firm’s contingent fees are then paid. Click on representative cases above for a description of some of the cases. Once successful, either by way of settlement or trial, tax refunds or just compensation follow.

McCarthy Fingar’s Leadership in the Community

McCarthy Fingar’s lawyers are often in the news and are frequent lecturers on many different topics. Click on news and speaking engagements above to check out what our lawyers are doing.

Contact Us

McCarthy Fingar’s Tax Certiorari & Condemnation lawyers are dedicated to our clients’ success. If you think you may require our assistance or have any questions, please contact Stephen Davis by email (sdavis@mccarthyfingar.com) or by phone (914-385-1011).

06/15/2015

Davis Rings the Gong to Tune of $2.4 million Assessment Reduction for Scarsdale Residence

Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis, who head our Tax Certiorari & Condemnation group, successfully reduced the tax assessment for a client in a Small Claims Assessment Review (SCAR) proceeding. Here, on behalf of the owners of one of the highest valued one-family residences in Scarsdale, Steve tried the SCAR proceeding, successfully contesting the Assessor’s assertion of a $9,679,700 value. SCAR limits assessment reduction to 25% of the contested assessed value. Steve achieved the maximum permitted reduction, with the Court Hearing Officer rejected the Town’s assertion of greatly added value attributed to the basketball half-court located in the basement. He did so, perhaps on the basis of Steve’s observation at trial of the court’s suitability for no more than free-throws and lay-ups.

11/01/2014

Pozin, Smith, Steinman & Georgiou Join Firm and Start up Municipal Law & Land Use Group

Clinton B. Smith Lester D. Steinman Daniel Pozin

We are pleased to advise that Daniel PozinClinton B. Smith and Lester D. Steinman have joined the firm as partners and Anna L. Georgiou has joined the firm as counsel. They are all members of the firm’s newly created Municipal Law & Land Use group.

11/04/2011

Davis Obtains Property Tax Reduction for Clients in Mamaroneck Flood Zone

Stephen Davis

Representing the owner of a high end, two tenant, 20,000 sq. ft. industrial building in Mamaroneck’s “Flats,” the Village’s industrial area, Stephen Davis, who heads up the firm’s Tax Certiorari & Condemnation group, successfully negotiated settlement of multiple annual tax certiorari proceedings, reducing the Town assessments by 45% and the Village assessments by 55%. In a second case this year (11/4/11), Steve achieved comparable reductions for another warehouse in “The Flats.” Steve successfully presented to the two Assessors and to the Town’s and Village’s tax certiorari counsel, evidence that the 2007 March and April floods significantly depressed market value in the area, and continues to do so. Adding to the prior flooding the deluge created by recent Hurricane Irene, these days “The Flats” of Mamaroneck seem to be referred to as the Sheldrake River flood plain. This reputation for repeated severe flooding engenders greatly reduced values for the many warehouse buildings of this once prime lower Westchester industrial area.

04/01/2008

Davis Joins Firm and Heads Up New Tax Certiorari & Condemnation Group

Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis has merged his practice and joined the firm as counsel and is a member of our Commercial Litigation, Tax Certiorari and Condemnation and Real Estate Transactions groups.

Berkson & Walisever v. Assessor of Town of Scarsdale, Westchester (SCAR Index# 3385/14)

Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis

Tax Certiorari & Condemnation – Small Claims Assessment Review (SCAR) – Reduced Assessment on Highly-Valued Property

 

Our Tax Certiorari & Condemnation lawyers understand that, in Westchester, highly-valued properties sometimes brings on excessive tax assessment. Here, Stephen Davis, on behalf of the owners of one of the highest valued one-family residences in Scarsdale, tried the Small Claims Assessment Review (SCAR) proceeding contesting the Assessor’s assertion of a $9,679,700 value. SCAR limits assessment reduction to 25% of the contested assessed value. Steve achieved the maximum permitted reduction, obtaining after trial a revised assessment of $7,259,775. The Court Hearing Officer rejecting the Town’s assertion of greatly added value attributed to the basketball half-court located in the basement. He did so, perhaps on the basis of Steve’s observation at trial of the court’s suitability for no more than free-throws and lay-ups.

Westchester Playhouses v. Assessor of Town of Rye (Supreme Court, Westchester Co. 2011)

Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis

Tax Certiorari & Condemnation – Valuation of Ancient Theater

In order to succeed for their clients, tax certiorari lawyers must focus on whether a property has current rental value. In multiple annual assessment proceedings in which Stephen Davis sought tax refunds based on a high tax assessment of $950,000, Steve successfully negotiated a reduction in the assessment of an ancient theatre to $480,000. The lowered assessment reflects treatment of an older theatre (circa 1922) in Port Chester as though it were vacant land. Steve successfully presented to the Assessor and the Town’s tax certiorari counsel evidence that this almost 90 year old building possessed virtually zero value. The theater, occupying approximately 75% of the building, supported no uses, as it had gone dark in the late 1970s, had reached a state of utter deterioration, and would have required a further investment of many hundreds of thousands of dollars to rehabilitate just to render it rentable. The assessor recognized the argument that a property owner need not essentially rebuild the property in order to make it income producing for creation of assessable value.

Delvito Realty v. Assessors of the Town & Village of Mamaroneck, Supreme Court, Westchester Co. (2010 & 2011); 603 Fenimore ) Rd Corp. v. Assessors of the Town and Village of Mamaroneck, Supreme Court, Westchester Co. (2010 & 2011).

Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis

Tax Certiorari & Condemnation – Floods Sink Mamaroneck Values

Our lawyers’ familiarity with Mamaroneck’s flooding conditions benefitted clients seeking reduction of their assessments when those conditions adversely impact their property. Representing the owner of a high end, two tenant, 20,000 sq. ft. industrial building in Mamaroneck’s “Flats,” the Village’s industrial area, Stephen Davis, who chairs our Tax Certiorari & Condemnation group, successfully negotiated settlements of multiple annual tax certiorari proceedings, reducing the Town assessments by 45% and the Village assessments by 55%. In the second case, Steve achieved comparable reductions for another warehouse in “The Flats.” Steve successfully presented to the two Assessors and to the Town’s and Village’s tax certiorari counsel, evidence that the 2007 March and April floods significantly depressed market value in the area, and continues to do so. Adding to the prior flooding the deluge created by recent Hurricane Irene, these days “The Flats” of Mamaroneck seem to be referred to as the Sheldrake River flood plain. This reputation for repeated severe flooding engenders greatly reduced values for the many warehouse buildings of this once prime lower Westchester industrial area.

Sylvan Development Corp. v. Westchester Joint Water Works, 853 N.Y.S.2d 918 (2d Dep’t 2008).

Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis

Tax Certiorari & Condemnation – Appellate Practice – Prior Negative Declarations Support Long, Hard Look

As part of their work, Tax Certiorari and Condemnation lawyers must understand environmental issues and their impact on a property’s valuation. Representing Westchester Joint Water Works (WJWW), Stephen Davis successfully upheld WJWW’s condemnation against attack from an alleged failure of WJWW to undertake adequate environmental considerations. Exercising its original jurisdiction, the Appellate Division sustained the argument that WJWW properly relied upon three prior negative declarations for the affected subdivision in discharging WJWW’s obligation to take and consider the required long, hard look at the project’s effect upon the environment.

[Read in full]

Southern Westchester Associates v. Assessor of City of Yonkers, 122 A.D.2d 212 (2d Dep’t 1986)

Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis

Tax Certiorari & Condemnation – Appellate Practice – Cooperative Apartment Conversion Valued By Imputing Rental Value

Tax Certiorari and Condemnation cases almost always involve the use of experts to establish value. Here, Stephen Davis successfully used an expert to establish rental value for apartments in a cooperative apartment buildling conversion as part of the capitalization of income process. At the taxpayer’s behest, the court applied a remedial statute designed to avoid use of sales prices for each unit, the effect of which would make the sum of the parts worth more than the whole, i.e., worth more than a neighboring similar apartment building. Instead, the rental value, rather than the so-called conversion value, was considered to be the best measure of value. Then, Steve convinced the Appellate Division to affirm the lower court ruling.

[Read in full]

Sear, Roebuck & Co. v. Assessor of City of White Plains, 66 A.D.2d 777 (2d Dep’t 1978)

Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis

Tax Certiorari & Condemnation – Appellate Practice – User Owned Building Valued By Rental Value, Not Cost

The valuation technique used by Tax Certiorari & Condemnation lawyers is the key to success or failure of their cases. Here, Stephen Davis successfully obtained a tax assessment reduction for property owned by the user department store permitted by capitalizing rental value. He did so through the use of expert testimony on rental values, rather than employing a cumbersome reconstruction cost methodology that would have likely resulted in a higher valuation for the client’s property. Steve then won on the appeal.

[Read in full]

Longport Realty Corp., v. Eklund, 44 Misc. 2d 1020 (Sup. Ct., Westchester 1964)

Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis

Tax Certiorari & Condemnation – Adjustment By Equalization Rate Comes To Westchester

McCarthy Fingar’s Tax Certiorari & Condemnation lawyers have also represented local towns and municipalities to defend their assessments. Here, on behalf of the Town of Rye, Stephen Davis established for Westchester County tax certiorari practice avoidance of artificially depressed value through overstatement of tax expense when capitalizing net income. Steve persuaded the court to adopt the Nassau County methodology of adjusting the actual tax rate by the ratio of assessed value to full value.

 

[Read in full]
Presenter Description Organization Date