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Publication Date: Autumn 2000

Action Committee for Reasonable Real Estate Taxes

The Action Committee for Reasonable Real Estate Taxes was founded by the Council of New York Cooperatives in 1990 to advocate for fair and equitable property taxes for all New York taxpayers. Four years into this mission, the City of New York, under Mayor Dinkins, acknowledged that homeowners in housing cooperatives and condominiums paid far more than their fair share of property taxes. Three years later, at the request of Mayor Giuliani and the City Council, the State legislature enacted a three-year program of escalating tax abatements to begin to correct this inequity, and the City was mandated to produce a long term plan for tax fairness.

The Department of Finance began the complex and arduous task of implementing the abatement program. CNYC and the Action Committee helped with the dissemination of information and the collection of data and waited patiently for the long-term plan. The December 1996 deadline came and went. The three-year abatement sunset and was renewed for two additional years. Another December deadline came and went.

In February 2000, Finance Commissioner Andrew Eristoff addressed the Action Committee and gave an overview of options which his staff was exploring as it worked on the requisite long-term plan for tax fairness. Heartened that progress was being made, CNYC and the Action Committee helped members usher in the final year of the extended abatement program and waited eagerly for the City Administration to present a long-term plan. At press date no plan has yet been presented for public comment.

The Action Committee for Reasonable Real Estate Taxes met on October 11th to determine its strategy for the coming year. Chairman Martin Karp noted that representatives of all the Action Committee's supporting organizations were present. He introduced Marc Luxemburg, president of CNYC, Al Pennisi, new president of the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives, Ed Yaker, chairman of the Coordinating Council of Cooperatives, and Rita Chu of the Apartment Owners Association, noting that together these organizations represent more than 300,000 units of cooperative and condominium housing in the City of New York.

Mr. Karp pointed out that the Giuliani administration has been supportive of tax fairness and has included provision in its long-term financial plan for funding to continue abatements at the present level. He further noted that, while there was clear evidence that work is in progress on a long-term plan to continue progress towards tax fairness for homeowners in cooperatives and condominiums, this plan has not yet been presented to the public. Even if no changes are sought once the plan does become public, its enactment into law and subsequent implementation will take considerable time, longer than the few months remaining in the current abatement program, which sunsets on June 30, 2001.

Mr. Karp therefore recommended that the Action Committee turn its immediate efforts towards ensuring that another extension of the abatement program be enacted as soon as possible, so that homeowners in New York cooperatives and condominiums will not experience any gap in abated taxes. Furthermore, his recommendation was to work for an extension of three years to allow ample time for the long-term plan to be presented, reviewed, enacted and implemented. Mr. Karp's proposal was ratified by the participating organizations.

Property tax law is State law, and so any major modifications must be authorized by State legislation. The property tax abatement program has required action by the State legislature for its creation and for any extensions. The long-term plan will also have to be passed by the State. Assembly member Pete Grannis and State Senator Roy Goodman have sponsored the laws enacting and extending the present abatement program. The Action Committee is confident of their support for future tax fairness laws. Their initiatives will require support from colleagues.

In this election year for all of the members of the State Senate and the Assembly, CNYC has sent a questionnaire to all candidates asking their positions on four issues of importance to housing cooperatives and condominiums. Not surprisingly, property tax fairness heads the list of issues. Click here for a compilation of the responses received by CNYC by October 12th. If candidates from your district have replied and support our efforts, please try to thank them for this support with your vote. If there is no response from candidates from your district, it becomes very important for you to ask the candidates where they stand on property tax fairness for homeowners in cooperatives and condominiums. Make sure that they know this issue and are supportive. Educate them if they are not. Election time is always an opportunity to make our issues known.



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