Property Tax Caps Might Be On the Horizon

August 31, 2007

Homeownership is supposed to be part of the American Dream, not a nightmare. Our state ranks high in the amount of property taxes paid, when compared to other states, and this makes owning a home a difficult thing for some New Yorkers. I am pleased this week the governor decided to include the idea of a property tax cap in the debate to solve New York’s growing property tax crisis. The idea of capping property taxes is not new but, rather, was first proposed by my Assembly Minority Conference as part of the “New York State Property Taxpayers Protection Act,” which includes several ideas that, if implemented, would provide a permanent solution to the property tax problem.

New Yorkers pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation. When measured as a percentage of home value, nine of the top 10 highest property tax rates in the country belong to counties in New York. When measured by total median taxes, four of the top 10 highest property tax rates – including 1st and 2nd – belong to counties in New York. This plan would give homeowners and businesses significant and lasting relief from the crushing burden of property taxes by limiting the amount school districts can increase levies to four percent annually or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. However, if this measure passes voters will have the ability to override the cap by a two-thirds majority vote. Along with several other measures, the plan would save New York property taxpayers approximately $16 billion over five years. This plan has earned the support of 36 municipalities across the state, all of which passed their own resolutions in support.

The STAR program’s effectiveness has been diminished, due in part to school districts and local governments raising taxes substantially. Our plan would provide immediate long-term relief than what is provided by the current system of rebates. It would cut, cap and control property taxes with no need to worry about applications and deadlines. It is our hope that as we debate the issue in Albany, our program will pass with the ultimate goal of permanent and adequate property tax relief.