New York Post
Ross' Related Cos. chopped $51.6 million off the assessment on its high-end shops in the glittering Columbus Circle towers by convincing the city Tax Commission that income fell sharply when the economy tumbled and that a tax bill reflecting earlier data was outdated.
That saved the firm $1.1 million in taxes in 2009.
Related saved another $243,000 by convincing the tax folks that condos at the super-deluxe Mandarin Oriental hotel in the Time Warner Center were also overassessed.
Finally, Ross filed a separate challenge on his condo unit within the development and shaved $36,555 off the $260,000 tax tab.
Records show the apartment has a market value of $5.4 million.
Score a triple for Ross.
The Tax Commission -- which acts as the appeals panel for property-tax bills sent out by the city Finance Department -- is getting flooded with filings. There were 46,800 recorded this year, up from 46,239 in 2009, the previous high. In 2008, there were 43,442 filings.
The commission granted 6,836 refunds last year, reducing total assessments by $4 billion. Owners got back $395 million in refunds and credits, less than 3 percent of the entire tax roll.
Tax Commission President Glenn Newman said challenges involving commercial property are usually heard in 10 to 15 minutes.
"It's not like a trial in state Supreme Court," he said.
Hotels were hard hit in the economic bust, and their owners swarmed the commission seeking relief. Among the properties that won huge assessment reductions in 2009 were the New York Hilton ($50.9 million), the Essex House ($43.2 million) and Embassy Suites in Battery Park City ($20.1 million).
The single largest cut was granted to the troubled Stuyvesant Town apartment complex, which had its assessment reduced by $64.9 million. That saved its owners $1.7 million in taxes.
1 Madison Ave. was far behind, winning two challenges worth $61.1 million in total assessment reductions and a $1.3 million tax cut.
It can take five years for city tax rolls to reflect rises in property values. So even as the economy tanked and the sale value of real estate dropped, tax assessments rose, reflecting the value from boom times years ago.
Some owners have a hard time grasping how their property taxes can go up in recessionary times. Last year, 1,901 residential home owners filed for reductions, a 37 percent jump from the 1,389 in 2008.
The flip side of the phase-in is that taxes went up only gradually several years ago, when the real-estate market was skyrocketing.
"No one complains about that," Newman said.