Property Tax Credits Could Be On Their Way To You

June 15, 2006

As a legislator and homeowner, I know firsthand of the tax burden placed on property owners. It’s why I made property tax relief one of my top legislative priorities for this year.

I am pleased to announce legislators in both houses earlier this week created a personal income tax credit to relieve homeowners from some of their property tax burdens.

You may recall earlier this year the state budget included measures designed to provide homeowners with property tax rebates. However, the governor’s initial opposition to the plan prompted the state Legislature to revisit the issue.

The measure passed by the Assembly and state Senate this week is dubbed the School District Property Tax Credit, and it replaces the earlier legislation that was deemed unconstitutional by the governor. This latest bill still provides much-needed tax relief to homeowners facing high taxes and to senior citizens in jeopardy of losing their homes to rising assessments. It is only fitting we return this money to people who earned it and to help alleviate the tax burden.

The credit is equal to $9,000 multiplied by each homeowner’s 2004-05 school property tax rate. However, if the individual’s county median home sales price is higher than the statewide median, the credit would increase accordingly.

Another concern of mine – that senior citizen homeowners in our community face additional tax burdens because many are on fixed incomes – is addressed in this new legislation. The measure provides a 67 percent increase in the tax credit for seniors who are eligible for the Enhanced School Tax Relief program and whose incomes are less than $67,850 per year. This would help alleviate some of the hardships shouldered by our seniors.

This tax credit would provide real property tax relief for New York’s long-suffering homeowners, as long as the governor signs the measure into law. For instance, senior citizen property owners in Cayuga County could receive a tax credit of $288, while the typical homeowner would get $195.

In Cortland County, the tax credit would be, on average, $276 and $186 for senior and typical homeowners, respectively. An Onondaga County senior homeowner could net $312, a typical homeowner $213. Ontario County senior citizen homeowners would realize, on average, a $306 credit, and a typical homeowner $201. About $310 would be set aside for the average Seneca County senior homeowner and $207 for a typical homeowner.

The tax credit is based on a formula provided by each school district. Remember, the examples take into account all school districts in each county and represent average amounts.

The legislation requires the state Department of Taxation and Finance to send property owners a claim form in the amount of the credit each homeowner qualifies for by September 1. Taxpayers who do not want to claim the advanced payment would be eligible for the same amount of credit when they file their personal income tax returns early next year.

There remain several measures that I am advocating that would further lower the property tax burden. By reducing the amount of fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicaid system, we can save state taxpayers an estimated $4 billion! This remains a top priority for my Assembly minority conference, and we’re addressing the need through our Task Force on Medicaid Fraud, Waste and Abuse.

I’m also promoting measures to reduce unfunded state mandates placed on local governments and school districts, which force those entities to increase their tax levies on property owners. I support legislation requiring state mandates costing more than $10,000 a year or having a statewide additional cost of $1 million to be funded by the state.

As always, please contact my office if you have questions, comments or concerns regarding this or other matters. I can be reached by mail at 607 West Washington St., Suite 2, Geneva, NY 14456, by e-mailing, or by calling (315) 781-2030.