Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums
CNYC Newsletter
TAX ACTION : Action Committee Update

Published: Summer 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. It has crusaded tirelessly ever since, first to bring awareness of tax inequities to the attention of government officials, and then to bring about a permanent remedy. 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 State-authorized program of property tax abatements has thus far provided more than one billion dollars of tax relief. Qualifying homeowners in New York City cooperatives and condominiums receive a 17.5% abatement of property taxes in buildings where assessments average $15,000 or more per apartment, and a 25% abatement in buildings with lower assessed value. Current law keeps the abatement program in force through June 30, 2004. Prior to that sunset date, the Action Committee will seek help of all CNYC members to extend the abatement program. The Action Committee also continues its research on tax structure and will continue to work diligently toward permanent tax reform that deals fairly with homeowners in cooperatives and condominiums.

Most cooperatives and condominiums in New York City are included in property class 2, which is made up of multiple dwellings of four or more units. The 1981 State legislation that established the current property tax system requires that the city assess housing cooperatives and condominiums based on comparable rental properties. This has proven to be a challenging task, and one that often has unexpected results. Where cooperatives and condominiums have long been residential dwelling, their assessments are calculated using rental projections which include provision for rent regulation. New construction and buildings converted from other uses are assessed based on market rate rents for all units. A different, better system is needed to treat all cooperatives and condominiums equitably.

The legislation that first created the abatement program also mandated that the City of New York develop a long-term plan for permanent tax reform. Implementation of the abatement program proved to be both complex and time-consuming, and so the City did not meet the original 12/31/96 deadline. Under Finance Commissioner Andrew Eristoff, various long-term plans were investigated, but, when the state rescinded the Commuter Tax, cutting a deep hole in New York City revenue, Commissioner Eristoff reported to the State Legislature that the City’s current long-term plan is for continuation of the abatement program. The Bloomberg administration has had to deal with shrinking revenues and other problems; time and resources to deal with long-term tax reform may not be available for some time. This makes it imperative that the abatement program be extended beyond the current sunset date of June 30, 2004.

The first year and a half of the Bloomberg administration have been fraught with financial problems. The Mayor and the City Council have had to make very difficult decisions, curtailing spending and increasing taxes. In November of 2003, they enacted an 18.49% increase in the property tax rate effective January 2003. This brought the tax rate on multiple dwellings to 12.517% (see page 4). With the property tax abatement firmly in place, homeowners in cooperatives and condominiums have had some relief from the impact of the rate increase. The tax rate for fiscal 2004, which begins on July 1, 2003, will not finally established until certain required State legislation is passed. There is strong commitment, however, not to bring any significant rate increase.

The Action Committee undertook a Selling Price Survey so that it would be prepared to evaluate any long-term plan that the city may eventually propose. 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 and Condominiums asking that they (or their managing agents) furnish this data to help the Action Committee. It was hoped that this would produce a valid data sample citywide. All specific sales information will remain strictly confidential and will not be shared with any entity.
CNYC strongly urges all member buildings to forward requested sales information at their earliest convenience. It will be helpful to the Action Committee in pursuing tax fairness.

The thirteen year crusade of the Action Committee for Reasonable Real Estate Taxes has been supported by its member organizations and by New York cooperatives and condominiums. The funds are used for Action Committee publications, meetings and research efforts and to retain our very effective professional support. Without your support, we could not have come this far; your continuing support will help us achieve long-term tax fairness.


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