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Report: Property taxes crushing New York families

New York’s working families are being burdened by property taxes that have risen at three times the rate of their incomes.

According to a new report from City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, over the last decade, tax hikes have had hit households with incomes under $100,000 hardest.

And tax relief programs have been too narrowly funded or restrictive to provide substantive support.
Now the comptroller is recommending the cityʼs newly established property tax commission consider expanding tax credit eligibility and making benefits more generous to combat the increasingly regressive burden of property taxes.

“Property taxes are rising too fast and incomes are rising too slowly – and it’s becoming harder than ever for already struggling New Yorkers to get ahead,” said Comptroller Stringer.

“Rising property taxes are becoming a barrier to the middle class and we can’t afford to continue down this path. We need to give New Yorkers a break, and turn a regressive tax system into a fair and progressive one. We must explore common sense solutions and expand tax relief to level the playing field for working families.”

The Comptroller’s report highlighted the impact that property tax increases have had on households making less than $250,000, particularly for homeowners earning less than $100,000 per year who make up roughly half of all New York City property tax filers and experience the most significant burdens.

Households making less than $50,000 saw their property taxes increase by 98 percent and their median incomes drop by almost 1 percent since 2005. As a result, the property tax burden for these New Yorkers nearly doubled from 6.6 percent in 2005 of income in 2005 to almost 13 percent in 2016;

Households making between $50,000 and $100,000 saw their property taxes increase by 67 percent since 2005 as their median income grew by just 4.6 percent. As a result, their burden grew from 3.4 percent of income in 2005 to 5.4 percent in 2016; and

Households making between $100,000 and $250,000 saw their property taxes increase by 54 percent as median income rose by 4.9 percent. As a result, their burden grew from 2.4 percent of income in 2005 to 3.7 percent in 2016.

According to Stringer, relief programs such as the STAR Property Exemption and NYC Enhanced Property Tax Benefit offer just $300 and $52 respectively, on average tax bills of nearly $4,000 for households making less than $100,000 a year.

The comptroller suggest New York take a leaf out of its neighborʼs tax books. States such as Mayrland offer more generous benefits for lower income households and operate tax models that make the system fairer for everyone.

In May, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced the formation of a new advisory commission to develop recommendations to make the city’s property tax system simpler, clearer, and fairer while still protecting revenue to fund essential services.

The last in-depth review of the system by a government-appointed commission was in 1993.

“To be the fairest big city, you need a fair tax system. For too long, New York City taxpayers have had to grapple with a property tax system that is too opaque, too complex, and just feels unfair,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“New Yorkers need property tax reform, and this advisory commission will put us on the road to achieve it.”

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