Attention senior citizens: NY may freeze, then eliminate, your school taxes
by: Joseph Spector
ALBANY — Senior citizens in New York could see a big property-tax break and all other homeowners would get a larger tax rebate under a proposal unveiled Tuesday by the Republican-led state Senate.
The $5 billion plan over 10 years, senators said, would help lower property taxes in New York, which is among the most expensive places to live in the nation.
But how the Republicans would pay for the plan and whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Democrats who control the Assembly would support it is uncertain.
The state also faces fiscal troubles: a $4.4 billion deficit for the upcoming year.
Still, Republicans were undaunted, saying property taxpayers deserve a break and that their plan would curb the exodus of New Yorkers leaving for other states.
“We rank the bottom of the list when it comes to business climate,” said Sen. Fred Akshar, R-Colesville, Broome County, said at a Capitol news conference with his colleagues.
“We rank the bottom of the list when it comes to taxes and affordability. But there’s one place where we’re ranked number one, and that’s in outmigration of people.”
Under the plan, senior citizens would initially have their school taxes — the largest part of a property-tax bill — frozen. Then, all school taxes would be phased out after 10 years.
The Senate GOP also proposed doubling the state’s current exemption on pension income, which the senators claimed would save seniors $275 million a year and help avoid them leaving to low-tax states.
“These checks currently provide direct, much-needed relief through checks in the mail to
homeowners and increasing their amount will help further ease the local tax
burden,” the Senate’s “Affordability Agenda” said.
New York already spends more than $3 billion on a year on its STAR rebate program, which provides savings for homeowners and seniors on their school taxes.
For those income eligible, the average basic STAR credit in 2016 was $750, while the average Enhanced STAR was about $1,400 for eligible seniors.
The state is also in the second year of a property-tax-rebate check program that provides a portion of the STAR savings back to homeowners based on income.
Those checks are currently going out.