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Biz, community leaders call for freeze on property tax bills

 A group of business and property owners, civic leaders and community advocates today called on the de Blasio Administration and City Council to provide property tax relief to offset rising expenses and economic instability resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.  

The groups comprising the Real Estate Board of New York, the NAACP NYS Conference, the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums, the Hospitality Alliance, the Hotel Association of NYC, Building Owners and Managers Association, and Brooklyn and Queens Chambers of Commerce are calling on the Mayor to take three immediate steps: 

  1. Freeze property tax rates and assessments so that tax bills do not increase 
  2. Reduce interest penalties from 18% to 3%. 
  3. Allow owners to pay their taxes on monthly payment plans 

New York City property tax rates have gone up nearly 50 percent since de Blasio took office and are set to rise again in the midst of a severe economic and public health crisis. The pandemic has affected residential and commercial owners significantly as businesses remain shuttered, tenants struggle to pay their rents and costs for maintenance, emergency repairs, labor and insurance continue to rise.  

“As commercial and residential rent collections continue to decline, we need responsible policies that support property owners who continue to pay property taxes that support vital government services while grappling with mortgages, maintaining payroll and covering increased building maintenance expenses,” said James Whelan, President of the Real Estate Board of New York.

JAMES WHELAN

“The challenges our City faces due to the Coronavirus are stark but surmountable. We need thoughtful, data-driven policies, not ideological ones, that can lead our city towards a steady recovery.” 

 “Our current property tax system is inequitable and regressive. Increasing rates at a time like this will further exacerbate problems for homeowners in low income communities of color who already bear a disproportionate share of the burden,” said Hazel Dukes, President of the New York State Conference of the NAACP.

“This segment of our housing infrastructure has only grown more fragile in this pandemic. Temporary fixes like mortgage deferrals are not enough. Mayor de Blasio has to provide the meaningful lifeline of a property tax freeze to prevent the American dream of homeownership from becoming a nightmare for these families and the families they house.”    

“Thousands of New York families in all five boroughs call cooperatives and condominiums their homes.  These everyday New Yorkers are struggling with the myriad impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic – including illness, job loss, maintenance challenges and other increased expenses,” said Mary Ann Rothman, Executive Director of the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums.  

“Our community of homeowners is not positioned to absorb new costs in the form of increased taxes which could force many owners, especially seniors, from their homes. Freezing the property tax at current levels will provide welcome stability and a predictable revenue stream for the City.  Lowering interest on late payments to a reasonable level and implementing people-friendly payment policies are also appropriate responses for the City to adopt at this time of hardship.”  

“Our city’s restaurant and nightlife industry has been devastated by COVID-19 and we must provide relief to these small business owners and their landlords in order for them to navigate these trying times,” said Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. 

“Enacting measures such as tax relief, reduced interest penalties, and flexible payment schedules for landlords who as a condition to this relief pass benefits on to their commercial tenants is critical in helping the hospitality industry recover.” 

“No industry has been hit harder than the tourism sector, and yet hotels across New York City have stepped up to do our part in the fight against COVID-19 by sheltering frontline health care workers, recovering patients and the homeless,” said Vijay Dandapani, President and CEO of the Hotel Association of New York City.

 “As an indispensable part of the city’s economy and a crucial player in the long economic recovery ahead, it’s essential and only fair that the city does everything it can to keep hotels in business. We need immediate property tax relief and payment flexibility to avoid a wave of bankruptcies that is imminent absent decisive action by our partners in city government.” 

 “All of New York has been affected by the pandemic and as a result tenants are in active conversations with owners, requesting rent abatement and forgiveness,” said Hani Salama, Chair and CEO of the Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater New York.

HANI SALAMA

“Given the circumstances, BOMA New York is requesting the City and State to temporarily modify their property tax requirements. These temporary concessions will be passed on to the tenants, which will reduce their burden and better position owners as they continue the dialogue with tenants and process their property tax payments.” 

“For two straight months, Brooklyn Chamber survey data confirmed that 45% of small businesses missed all or part of their rent payments,” said Randy Peers, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

“With so many commercial tenants and landlords struggling, and with a significant property tax bill looming, New York City should provide the flexibility and support needed to stabilize costs through a tax rate freeze and a reduction in penalties.   Ultimately the City should consider property tax abatements that can serve as incentives to reduce rent obligations in this time of distress. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic took a devastating toll on communities throughout Queens and all sectors of our local economy,” said Thomas J. Grech, President and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

 “As we plan to bring Queens back, stronger and better than ever, we need policies that will support employers and support their employees. Property tax relief is a win for property owners, small businesses and residents, that will stabilize various industries and support economic recovery.” 

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