New Lawsuit Fights Illegal Fees in Suffolk, Could Set Statewide Precedent 

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Reclaim New York executive director Brandon Muir offered the following statement in support of a new lawsuit against Suffolk County over illegal fees (specifically the Tax Map Verification Fee) by Government Justice Center:

“If citizens break the law, they get taken to court. When Suffolk politicians charge residents illegal fees, they’re getting hauled into court as well. Breaking the law is wrong, no matter who you are.

“When a family struggles to balance a budget they either work extra hours or tighten their belt to cut costs. They don’t steal from their neighbor. Suffolk County is knowingly stealing and that stops today.

“For one mortgage, Suffolk is looting over $400 more than it should with illegal fees. So if you purchased a home in the last few years, see the arrogance for what it is and demand a refund.

“These predatory fees are not only illegal, they don’t work to fix the budget, and they hurt those who can least afford to pay them. The county has had their chance to stop wrongfully profiting from families buying their first home, or seniors who had to take out a home loan. It’s time to fight the fees.

“That’s why Reclaim New York supports the Government Justice Center’s lawsuit. Reclaim’s “Fight the Fees” campaign will work with citizens across the state to fight back against illegal fees.”

Why Suffolk’s revenue grabbing fees are illegal & wrongfully taking millions from Suffolk residents:

  • State law says fees must be tied to the cost of the service, only taxes can be used to raise revenue. If successful, this lawsuit will enforce this law statewide and set a precedent that protects New York taxpayers.
  • Suffolk agencies are rolling in tens of millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains:
    • Suffolk’s Real Property Tax Service Agency costs $1.2 million to operate but generates over $66 million in fee revenue. (estimated $65 million for 2017).
    • The Suffolk County Clerk’s office also overcharges with illegal fees. They take in $17.5 million in revenue but cost around $8 million to operate. That’s $9,629,464 in illegally overcharges.
  • The cost of the verification service is estimated at around $12 per filing. So the county is illegally charging you over $400 for this service. Normal people call that stealing. Suffolk County calls it budgeting.
  • Suffolk’s own budget documents show that fees don’t work to patch budget gaps. They fall short of revenue projections.
  • These fees hammer lower-income home buyers. They cost the same whether the house you’re buying costs $1 million dollars or $200,000.

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