Property taxes are vital to the health of New York City. StarkPatch Legal is at the forefront of actions to make the system fairer. Read about current developments in the field.
Yesterday, the City Council approved the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1st. For, the first time in more than three decades, the City budget was adopted just a day later than the June 5th City Charter requirement. The on time adoption meant that the tax bills payable in July could have reflected the new tax rates and the Finance Department would not have had to send an adjusted and confusing tax bill to owners at the end of the year. However, Finance has opted to send the bills using the current tax rate. Two possible reasons. First, Finance did not know the rates would be adopted on time. Second, the City may be seeking legislation to offset the tax rate increase for homeowners. Stay tuned.
The City continues to rely on a questionable reading of a late 1970’s Attorney General ruling to justify raising $700 million more from the property tax ($25.1 billion) than is allowed by the State Constitution ($24.4 billion). The City can raise as much as is needed to pay back debt on loans however the Constitution limits how much the City can raise for general operating purposes.
The tax rate for small homeowners is increasing from 19.991 to 21.289 percent. The tax rates for apartment buildings, including co-ops and condos (12.892 to 12.729 percent), and commercial property owners (10.574 to 10.442 percent) are decreasing. Utility companies will see a tax rate increase (10.934 to 11.128 percent).
A tax rate decrease does not mean lower taxes for owners because assessments as determined by the City continue to significantly increase.
A broad coalition, alleging racial disparities, turns to the courts for reform.
Tax Equity Now NY filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court backed up by mountains of data collected by former city finance commissioner Martha Stark mapping out a disparity that hurts certain homeowners and renters.
Tax Equity Now New York (TENNY) claims the current law and its implementation violate the equal protection and due process clauses of the New York and US constitutions, the state’s Real Property Tax Law and the federal Fair Housing Act.
Higher assessments lead to higher taxes in minority-majority neighborhoods across the city. People of color constitute a minority of the population in the 15 community planning districts in which condos, co-ops and rental property are taxed at the lowest effective tax rates. By contrast, people of color constitute 72% of the 15 community planning districts in which those properties are taxed at the highest effective tax rates.