Published: Winter 2003
The Action Committee for Reasonable Real Estate Taxes was
formed in early 1990 to seek an equitable property tax structure
for New York City. At the time, we were told that resolving
the tax inequity problem was impossible. Thirteen years
later, homeowners in New York City cooperatives and condominiums
still pay more than their fair share of property taxes.
However, considerable progress has been made. Since fiscal
1996, a twice-extended program of property tax abatements
for homeowners in New York City cooperatives has provided
a billion dollars of tax relief through 17.5% abatements
of taxes on buildings where assessments average $15,000
or more per apartment, and 25% abatements on buildings with
lower assessed values. The abatement program will remain
in force through June 30, 2004. And the crusade continues.
Following are excerpts of Chairman Martin Karp’s report
to the January 28, 2002, meeting of the Action Committee.
TAX REFORM: THE PROCESS
Changes in Real Property Tax policy require a city recommendation
followed by legislative action in Albany. To obtain movement
on the plan to eliminate the continuing tax inequity, we
have had to restart the strategic effort with a new Mayor,
a new Commissioner of Finance, and a markedly changed City
In the City Council, Speaker Gifford Miller is very familiar
with and supportive of tax fairness issues. We are confident
that he will continue strong Council support of tax equity
concepts. At his invitation, CNYC and the Action Committee
have conducted a briefing session for Council members and
their housing staffs on key co-op and condo issues, including
In the Spring of 2002, Mayor Bloomberg appointed Martha
E. Stark, Esq. as the Finance Commissioner. The Action Committee
had direct contact with Commissioner Stark when she was
a special assistant to the Finance Commissioner in the Dinkins
administration. We were able to meet with her and have a
frank and constructive discussion soon after she took office.
However, Commissioner Stark had more pressing priorities
to deal with, including reforming the assessment process
and implementing required budget reductions within the Finance
Department. There is no indication yet of how the Department
of Finance now proposes to address the long-term co-op and
condo tax inequity.
Late in 2002, the Mayor began talking about a 25 % real
property tax rate increase. Believing that some tax increase
was inevitable, The Action Committee did not to join efforts
to oppose any tax increase. The property tax is virtually
the only significant revenue source that the city can change
without New York State approval. Late in 2002, the Mayor
and the City Council agreed upon an 18.5% increase in the
city's overall property tax rate, which had been stable
for the previous dozen years.
Mayor Bloomberg’s State of the City address showed
sensitivity to the impact of the real estate tax increase.
When he presented his plan for fiscal year 2004 on January
28th, he clearly identified the revenue and expense issues
that must be addressed to meet a legally required balanced
budget. Nowhere did he suggest any changes in the current
tax abatements for homeowners in cooperatives and condominiums,
which will remain in effect through June 30, 2004.
Looking to the future, we need to push for a long-term
plan for several reasons:
The abatements do not cover the existing
The abatement process, which was adopted
to provide interim reduction of the tax disparity, has
some inherent inequity.
We do not want to have to go through the
extension process every two or three years.
While we would like to see progress on tax reform, it would
be pointless to press for further action until the city
moves out of crisis mode. Instead, we will continue our
research (see Survey information below). Our professional
representatives continue to monitor the situation in New
York City and Albany. With their guidance, we will find
the right moment to extend the abatement program, while
we continue to push for a long-term plan.
The Action Committee undertook a Selling Price Survey to
update the basis for discussion when consideration of a
long-term plan resurfaces. Questionnaires were sent to all
Action Committee members, and to members of the Council
of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums and the Federation
of New York Housing Cooperatives, asking that they (or their
managing agents) furnish this data to help the Action Committee.
The response to our request was disappointing. A repeat
request will soon be sent to buildings that did not previously
respond. Please take the time to provide the information
requested, so that the Action Committee can further the
cause of tax fairness.
HELP FUND THE ACTION COMMITTEE
We close with thanks to the individuals and the cooperatives
and condominiums that have made contributions to the Action
Committee. This money is used to retain our very effective
professional support in NYC and Albany and to fund Action
Committee activities. Without your support, we could not
have come this far; your continuing support will help us
achieve long-term tax fairness.