NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A7495A
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the tax law, in relation to establish-
ing a senior utility circuit breaker personal income tax credit
PURPOSE: OR GENERAL IDEA OF THE BILL: Creates a circuit breaker
refundable tax credit to provide relief to seniors that pay a high
percentage of their income in utility costs.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section one of the bill amends section 606 of the tax law by adding a
new subdivision (ccc). Paragraph one of the . new subdivision defines
eligible taxpayer as individuals over 65 years of age with gross incomes
of $150,000 or less. It defines the eligible expenses as including elec-
tricity, heating, residential gas, water and sewer charges, and tele-
phone services, with the exception of cell phone services unless they
are the sole means by which the taxpayer receives telephonic services.
Paragraph two of the new subdivision explains the computation of the
credit. The credit shall be equal to one half of those eligible expenses
which exceed seven percent of a filers' income. The credit will deduct
any funds received by an individual pursuant to the low-income home
energy assistance program.
Paragraph three of the new subdivision states that any amount of credit
allowed under this subsection that exceeds the qualified taxpayers tax
for that year shall be treated as an overpayment and refunded.
Section two of the bill sets an immediate effective date.
JUSTIFICATION: New Yorkers currently pay the highest electric bills
in the continental United States and the second highest in the nation,
60% above the national average. These circumstances are problematic for
all New Yorkers, but especially problematic for senior New Yorkers.
Seniors' bills in the Consolidated Edison service territory of NYC have
increased by 20% or more over the past two years, and are. paying 102%
more for their average electric bill than the average customer across
Most seniors rely on fixed incomes, receiving on average $1,234 in
Social Security benefits and $516.90 in Supplemental Security Income in
NY. 30% of older households have total incomes of less than $20,000, and
they typically experience the greatest energy burden. Unfortunately,
the federal government's Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) is down.
Throughout the decade, the average HEAP federal block grant amount has
remained well below average heating costs faced by older consumers. This
means that even our neediest seniors are not getting the support they
need to help pay for New York's high utility costs.
This proposal is meant to provide relief that is based on the income
burden a household faces. This senior utility circuit breaker would
deliver relief to any senior household that pays more than seven percent
of their annual - income in utilities in the form of a refundable tax
credit. This proposal would provide a senior household with relief equal
to half of their expenses above the seven percent threshold. For the
purposes of this proposal, covered expenses would include electricity
charges, gas, heating charges, including the costs of any fuels, water
and sewer charges, internet, and telephone charges excluding cell phone
service. By linking this relief to income, we can ensure that the bene-
fits are provided to those that need it most.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: This is a new bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Cost to be deter-
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately
STATE OF NEW YORK
2015-2016 Regular Sessions
May 13, 2015
Introduced by M. of A. CRESPO -- read once and referred to the Committee
on Ways and Means -- recommitted to the Committee on Ways and Means in
accordance with Assembly Rule 3, sec. 2 -- committee discharged, bill
amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said commit-
AN ACT to amend the tax law, in relation to establishing a senior utili-
ty circuit breaker personal income tax credit
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. Section 606 of the tax law is amended by adding a new
2 subsection (ccc) to read as follows:
3 (ccc) Senior utility circuit breaker tax credit. (1) Definitions. For
4 the purposes of this subsection:
5 (A) "Qualified taxpayer" means a resident individual, married or head
6 of household taxpayer who is over sixty-five years of age, with a house-
7 hold gross income of one hundred fifty thousand dollars or less.
8 (B) "Household" or "members of the household" means a qualified
9 taxpayer and all other persons, not necessarily related, who have the
10 same residence and share its furnishings, facilities and accommodations.
11 Such terms shall not include a tenant, subtenant, roomer or boarder who
12 is not related to the qualified taxpayer in any degree specified in
13 paragraphs one through eight of subsection (a) of section one hundred
14 fifty-two of the internal revenue code. Provided, however, no person may
15 be a member of more than one household at one time.
16 (C) "Household gross income" means the aggregate adjusted gross income
17 of all members of the household for the taxable year as reported for
18 federal income tax purposes, or which would be reported as adjusted
19 gross income if a federal income tax return were required to be filed,
20 with the modifications in subsection (b) of section six hundred twelve
21 of this article but without the modifications in subsection (c) of such
22 section, plus any portion of the gain from the sale or exchange of prop-
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.
A. 7495--A 2
1 erty otherwise excluded from such amount; earned income from sources
2 without the United States excludable from federal gross income by
3 section nine hundred eleven of the internal revenue code; support money
4 not included in adjusted gross income; nontaxable strike benefits;
5 supplemental security income payments; the gross amount of any pension
6 or annuity benefits to the extent not included in such adjusted gross
7 income (including, but not limited to, railroad retirement benefits and
8 all payments received under the federal social security act and veter-
9 ans' disability pensions); nontaxable interest received from the state
10 of New York, its agencies, instrumentalities, public corporations, or
11 political subdivisions (including a public corporation created pursuant
12 to agreement or compact with another state or Canada); workers' compen-
13 sation; the gross amount of "loss-of-time" insurance; and the amount of
14 cash public assistance and relief, other than medical assistance for the
15 needy, paid to or for the benefit of the qualified taxpayer or members
16 of his household. Household gross income shall not include surplus foods
17 or other relief in kind or payments made to individuals because of their
18 status as victims of Nazi persecution as defined in P.L. 103-286.
19 Provided, further, household gross income shall only include all such
20 income received by all members of the household while members of such
22 (D) "Residence" means a dwelling in this state, whether owned or rent-
24 (E) "Eligible expenses" means payments made by a qualified taxpayer
25 for the following goods and services delivered and used at his or her
26 primary residence:
27 (i) residential gas, electric and steam utility service which is
28 subject to the provisions of article two of the public service law;
29 (ii) residential water and sewer service;
30 (iii) home heating fuel, which shall include fuel oil, coal, wood,
31 propane, natural gas, electricity, steam, kerosene and any other fuel
32 when used for residential heating purposes; and
33 (iv) telecommunications services as defined in paragraph (g) of subdi-
34 vision one of section one hundred eighty-six-e of this chapter, and
35 shall not include wireless communications service, as defined by subdi-
36 vision ten of section three hundred one of the county law, unless such
37 wireless service is the only means by which the qualified taxpayer
38 receives telephonic services.
39 (2) Computation of credit. For taxable years beginning on and after
40 January first, two thousand sixteen, a qualified taxpayer shall be
41 allowed a credit, to be credited against the tax imposed by this arti-
42 cle. The amount of the credit shall be one-half of all eligible expenses
43 paid by the qualified taxpayer to the extent such expenses exceed seven
44 percent of the qualified taxpayer's household gross income. Such credit
45 shall be reduced by the amount of any moneys received by the qualified
46 taxpayer pursuant to the low-income home energy assistance program
47 established pursuant to section ninety-seven of the social services law.
48 (3) Overpayment. If the amount of the credit allowed under this
49 subsection for any taxable year shall exceed the qualified taxpayer's
50 tax for such year, the excess shall be treated as an overpayment of tax
51 to be credited or refunded in accordance with section six hundred eight-
52 y-six of this article, provided, however, that no interest shall be paid
54 § 2. This act shall take effect immediately.