New York State Assembly, Albany, New York 12248

News from the
Assembly Committee on
Real Property
Scott Stringer, Chair diamond Sheldon Silver, Speaker diamond 2002

Dear Fellow New Yorkers,

I have greatly enjoyed working with the members and staff of the Real Property Taxation Committee. Their knowledge and enthusiasm made the intricate work of this Committee more focused and productive. I now look forward to my new tasks as Chair of the New York State Standing Committee on Cities. I would like to congratulate Assemblyman Scott Stringer on his appointment, by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, to be the new Chair of the Real Property Taxation Committee.

Last year was a very busy time for the Committee, with a wide variety of issues and legislation considered. The horrible terrorist attack that took place on September 11 made our tasks even more complex. As Chair of the Committee, I devoted time and effort in expanding and simplifying the School Tax Relief (STAR) program. The Star program was first introduced in 1997, and was initially designated to provide relief from the burden of local school taxes. Since 1998, the Assembly has established a session day known as STAR DAY dedicated to improving the administration of STAR in both the city and State of New York.

2001 was no exception to our commitment to improving the lives of New York State homeowners. Throughout the year, the Real Property Taxation Committee put forth a number of major proposals that target some weak areas in the administration of the STAR exemption. As mentioned in this newsletter, many of these proposals became laws during the year. These proposals include extending the school tax relief exemption to certain additional entities and simplifying the application and income verification process for senior citizen homeowners. In addition, the Committee also reviewed legislation aimed at supporting the families of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attack. These issues and many others are discussed in this newsletter. I hope you find this information useful and of interest.

Again, I extend my best wishes to Assemblyman Stringer and the entire Committee.

Peter M. Rivera
Peter M. Rivera

New Chairman Appointed

Scott Stringer
Scott Stringer

Assemblyman Scott Stringer has been named the new Chair of the Assembly Committee on Real Property Taxation.

First elected to represent the 67th Assembly District in 1992, Assemblyman Stringer has previously chaired the Assembly Task Force on Persons with Disabilities and the Oversight, Analysis and Investigation Committee. He has also been a member of the Children and Families, Education, Health, Higher Education, Housing and Judiciary Committees. Assemblyman Stringer can be reached in Albany at 518-455-5802 or at his district office at 212-873-6368.

Statue of Liberty WTC Redevelopment

In solidarity with the families of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attack, the Assembly Majority proposed three bills. These bills (A.9469, A.9470, A.9471) put forward a variety of real property tax relief efforts that range from a total exemption of payment of real property taxes for victims' families to granting school tax relief exemption to the rescue workers. These bills also address real property tax issues affecting residences and businesses around Lower Manhattan.

STAR Improvement stars

Third Party Notice Became Law

This year, the Assembly Majority reviewed and reintroduced legislation which allows senior citizens to designate an adult third party to receive notice regarding their STAR exemption (A.9427). This could be helpful in times of illness or when seniors find it difficult to make a timely filing of the STAR application.

Increase STAR benefits in NYC

In addition to allowing a third party in the STAR process, the Real Property Taxation Committee proposed new legislation which allows the owners of Mitchell-Lama cooperatives to participate in the STAR program like other cooperative homeowners. Under current laws only non-Mitchell-Lama cooperative homeowners may receive STAR reductions in their tax bills. This legislation will ensure that all cooperative homeowners receive the STAR exemption.

According to a study conducted by the New York City Budget Office, 290,000 nonseniors had not applied for STAR in New York City and 80,000 eligible senior citizen homeowners had not done so by Spring 2000, losing a total of about $100 million in tax relief that tax year. To address that problem, the Real Property Taxation Committee reported out a proposal that would improve the administration of the STAR program in the City of New York (A.8910). This proposal requires the City of New York to send annual notices explaining the STAR program along with an application form to any property owner who is not already part of the program.

Simplifying the application process

In order to increase the awareness of the STAR benefits among New Yorkers, the Assembly proposed legislation which requires school districts to give property owners annual notice of the availability of the STAR exemption and modifies the text of the notice required to be given (A.4351). The Assembly would also require the issuance of a receipt by an assessor acknowledging submission of a STAR application when such a request is made by an applicant (A.2503).

In addition, another Assembly proposal provides for a retroactive application of the STAR exemption where a person purchases property after the applicable taxable status date (A.4352).

Another Assembly proposal would allow assessors to accept late applications for STAR exemptions under special circumstances. These special circumstances include failure to file a timely application due to a death of an applicant's spouse, child, parent, brother or sister or an illness of the applicant or such relatives, or because of a state disaster emergency (A.1768).

Simplifying the renewal process for senior citizens

To simplify the renewal procedure of the enhanced STAR exemption for our elderly, we proposed legislation that would eliminate the need to file a tax return on renewal applications if the taxpayer provides authorization to the local assessor to verify income information with the State's Department of Tax & Finance. This bill also requires the assessor to notify the senior applicant of the filing deadline for a renewal application.

Reducing real property taxes
in New York City

Co-op/Condo Abatement Law

According to a 1992 study conducted by the New York City Real Property Tax Reform Commission, the average effective tax rate as measured by the ratio of tax liability to market value of cooperatives and condominiums in class two was more than three times greater than the effective tax rate of class one homeowners. The discrepancy in effective tax rate is attributed to the differences in valuation methods and the affect of statutory limitations on assess-ment increases. In order to allevi- ate the situation, the Assembly passed legislation (A.9182) aimed at partially relieving this substantial tax inequity. Under this proposal, residential condominium owners and tenant-shareholders in cooperative apartment buildings will continue to be eligible for a decrease of property taxes for fiscal years 2001 to 2003 through temporary tax abatements.

Addressing Real Estate Fluctuation

Another Assembly bill that became law this year (A.9136) limits any increase in property taxes in Class II to 2% instead of 5% for fiscal year 2002 due to real estate market fluctuation. This law's main purpose is to stabilize property taxes for properties that would otherwise incur large tax increases.

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