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Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums
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Tax Issues


Published: Summer 2002

ACTION COMMITTEE TO REOPEN ISSUE OF
LONG-TERM PROPERTY TAX FAIRNESS

As the new administration and City Council have been developing their working relationship, the Action Committee for Reasonable Real Estate Taxes was able to monitor the budget process from the sidelines, secure in the knowledge that the property tax abatement program will continue through fiscal 2004.

A three-year extension of the abatement was requested by the city last year and enacted by the state legislature, and was signed into law by Governor Pataki on September 7, 2001. The city budget for fiscal 2003 includes the abatement of 25% for qualifying homeowners in cooperatives and condominiums with an average assessment of $15,000 or less per unit, and 17.5% for those with higher assessments. Because the new tax rate is not yet established, the tax bills for the first quarter of fiscal 2003 were calculated using current assessments at last year's rate. As in years past, adjustments will be made on the bills for January 2003 (see Page 11). With the new government now firmly in place, the Action Committee is reactivating its crusade for a permanent program for property tax fairness.

A LONG-TERM PLAN
Two years ago at the tenth-anniversary meeting of the Action Committee for Reasonable Real Estate Taxes, then-Commissioner of Finance An-drew Eristoff described several alternative long-term plans which were being explored by the Department of Finance. The Giuliani administration did not put forward any of these plans, but supported instead the three-year extension of the abatement program achieved last September.

To begin discussion of a long-term plan with the Bloomberg administration, Action Committee Chairman Martin Karp has met with Martha E. Stark, the present Commissioner of Finance. Commissioner Stark is not a stranger to CNYC or to the Action Committee, and surely not to property tax issues. She began her career as a tax attorney and then served as a special deputy to Finance Commissioner Carol O'Cleireacain in the Dinkins Administration, presiding over a property tax task force which brought together representatives of many aspects of the real estate industry for forthright discussions of tax issues. In the past, she has addressed the Action Committee and the CNYC Annual Meeting, and has participated in workshops at CNYC's Annual Housing Conference.

THE ABATEMENT PROGRAM
In 1993, Mayor Dinkins convened a blue ribbon commission to investigate property fairness issues. Its report confirmed that homeowners in New York City cooperatives and condominiums paid far more than their fair share of property taxes. These findings were strong motivation for the property tax abatement program inaugurated by the Giuliani administration, presently entering its seventh year. This program has gone a long way toward improving tax fairness, bridging approximately half of the acknowledged inequity. However, refinements are still needed, and, most importantly, the program must be made integral to our tax structure, rather than requiring constant periodic renewal.
The Action Committee seeks to have a permanent plan enacted prior to the sunsetting of the present abatement on June 30, 2004. To prepare to discuss proposals for a long-term plan, the Action Committee is asking all CNYC members for current data on sales prices and apartment configurations. Forms and instructions are being sent to each CNYC contact; kindly have these forms completed and promptly returned to the Action Committee.

At CNYC’s 22nd Annual Housing Conference, Jim Rheingrover of the Department of Finance will join Martin Karp to present a midday workshop about the abatement and exemption programs. Page 15 of this Newsletter provides a Conference preview.

BRING TAX FAIRNESS TO ALBANY ELECTIONS
State-level elections take place this year. The entire State Senate and Assembly are up for election, as are the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and State Comptroller. As always, CNYC and the Action Committee will try to make all candidates aware of cooperative and condominium issues and will seek their support for equitable tax treatment. As any long-term plan established by the city must be enacted by the State Legislature and signed into law by the governor, please make certain that local candidates understand the importance of this issue.

The Action Committee for Reasonable Real Estate Taxes will keep members informed of progress of its efforts to achieve property tax fairness. To add your name to the mailing list or for answers to your questions on property tax fairness, please call the Action Committee at (212) 496-1306.


 
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