Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums
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Tax Issues

Publication Date: Summer 2000

July 1, 2000 marked the commencement of the city's fiscal year 2001. It also marked the final year of the tax abatement program currently in place to bring more fairness to the taxes paid by homeowners in cooperatives and condominiums of our city. Continuation of the abatement program and support for the promulgation of a long term plan to continue progress towards tax fairness are cornerstones of CNYC's political action goals.

In 1990, CNYC formed the Action Committee for Reasonable Real Estate Taxes and began a crusade for a fair and affordable property tax system for New York City. Action Committee Chairman Martin Karp mastered the complexities of the property tax system, noting major inequities and offering practical recommendations for tax reform. After years of work came widespread acknowledgment that homeowners in New York City cooperatives and condominiums pay far more than their fair share of property taxes. A 'home rule message' from Mayor Giuliani and the City Council In 1996 brought passage of State legislation establishing a 3-year program of escalating abatements as a first step toward tax reform. The legislation also required that the City develop a long term plan to continue progress toward tax fairness. The December 31, 1996, deadline for producing this plan came and went.

Meanwhile, the work of implementing the abatement program was complicated, and CNYC worked closely with the Department of Finance to help ensure that all qualified homeowners would benefit from the abatement.

In 1999 the abatement program was about to sunset with still no long-term plan in evidence. Mayor Giuliani and Speaker Vallone included in the City budget provision for a two-year extension of the abatement at its highest level: 25% for buildings where the assessment per unit averaged $15,000 or less and 17.5% for buildings with higher assessments. Assemblyman Pete Grannis shepherded the proposal through the Assembly with unanimous support and Senator Roy Goodman sponsored the Senate version. The New York State budget for fiscal 2000 included a two-year extension of the abatement program and mandated that a long term plan be presented by December 31, 1999.

Finance Commissioner Andrew Eristoff addressed the February 10, 2000 meeting of the Action Committee for Reasonable Real Estate Taxes. He outlined the progress of his department in researching several alternatives for the long-awaited plan for property tax fairness for homeowners in cooperatives and condominiums. He noted that his staff would continue to analyze the data received from abatement applications.

In the ensuing months, the Department of Finance has proceeded carefully, analyzing the data acquired as the abatement program has been implemented. The report of its recommendations was recently presented to Mayor Giuliani for his review.

It is likely that this report will form the basis for the long term plan that the Mayor will recommend, but there is no assurance of when it will be presented. Nor can CNYC be sure until our own expert has studied it that we will want to support its enactment without modification. There is also no way to determine how long it will take to secure passage and implementation of the long-term plan.

SOUGHT Meanwhile, the abatement program is in its final year and will sunset on June 30, 2001. Unless state legislation again provides for an extension, the hard-fought benefits of the abatement program will be lost. To guard against this possibility, CNYC and the Action Committee are urging the passage of a three year extension of the abatement program at its present level. Three years of abatement will help bridge the transitional period in 2002, when enormous changes will take place in City government (see Election Time Approaches).

At the same time, CNYC and the Action Committee for Reasonable Real Estate Taxes will continue to push for the presentation of the long-term plan.

A strong grass roots effort will be required in the final push for passage of the long-term plan and the interim extension of the abatements. The Action Committee will reach out to its members and to the members of supporting organizations for letters, telephone calls, lobbying visits, and funding. Important plans will be made at the October 11, 2000 meeting of the Action Committee for Reasonable Real Estate Taxes, which is described on page 15. If you are not currently on the Action Committee mailing list and would like to be included in this important outreach please contact the Action Committee for Reasonable Real Estate Taxes by phone at (212) 496-1306 or fax at (212) 580-7801. Contributions to fund the activities of the Action Committee will be gratefully accepted. Mail your check to the Action Committee at 250 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019-2142.



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