Long Islanders would benefit from proposed $2.2 billion property tax credit

Long Island homeowners could receive refund checks this fall to offset their school taxes if the state Legislature approves a $2.2 billion plan in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s budget proposal.

The rebates, announced earlier this week in the governor’s budget speech, are for households that receive school tax relief, or STAR, a credit or exemption whose income is equal or lower. to $250,000 and seniors eligible for Enhanced STAR. A similar property tax credit, which had allowed income of up to $275,000, expired in 2019.

WHAT THERE IS TO KNOW

  • Governor Kathy Hochul included a $2.2 billion property tax credit as part of its proposed budget for fiscal year 2023, which begins April 1.
  • If approved by the state legislature, rebates for households that take advantage of the school tax credit or exemption, or STAR, would average $970 outside of New York.
  • The money would be sent to the owners with household income of $250,000 or less through checks this fall.

“At a time when inflation is robbing families of much-needed earnings and income, and recognizing that property taxes are still too high, we will provide a $2 billion property tax refund to more than 2 million homeowners middle class,” she said.

Since the refunds are tied to property taxes, the largest checks will likely go to property owners on Long Island and the Hudson Valley, where property values ​​and associated taxes are highest, Patrick Orecki said. , director of state studies at the Citizens Budget Commission in Manhattan. . Lower-income households would generally receive higher refunds under the plan. But if two homeowners earn the same income, whoever pays more in property taxes would receive a higher refund. The plan also completely eliminates tenants, he noted.

“Our concern with a program like this is that it will benefit the most affluent areas the most. It’s not a very well-targeted program if you’re trying to relieve the areas that need it the most,” said Orecki. “The question that the Governor and the Legislature must consider over the next two and a half months is [whether] it’s the best use of the $2.2 billion in this year’s budget,” Orecki said.

The discounts on offer are aimed at households that benefit from School Tax Relief, or STAR. Above is a classroom in the Jericho School District. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa Loarca

School taxes make up more than 60% of homeowners’ property tax bills, and last week State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said increases would be capped at 2% for the 2022-23 academic year. , against 1.23% this year. A 60% majority of local voters is required for a district to exceed the cap.

The property tax rebate will be calculated as a percentage of a homeowner’s STAR benefit, according to the governor’s office. The money will be paid out as an advanced credit for the 2022 tax year starting in the fall instead of recipients waiting to receive the funds when they file taxes the following year.

The state estimates that there are 2 million property tax-paying households outside of New York who are eligible, and their average benefit would be $970. Those earning less than $75,000 would receive an average credit of $1,050.

State Senator Phil Boyle, of Bay Shore, said he supports the tax credit. Boyle, a Republican member of the Senate Housing Committee who represents parts of the cities of Babylon and Islip, said the tax credit could bring political benefits to Democrat Hochul, with the checks arriving ahead of the election in governorship in November.

“I think Governor Hochul’s property tax rebate proposal is an area of ​​his budget that should receive strong bipartisan support,” he told Newsday. “This will help countless Long Island homeowners. Given Long Island’s high tax burden, every gesture counts.”

Hochul’s budget proposal also includes funding for housing development as Long Island faces a record number of homes for sale. The five-year, $25 billion housing plan commits $1.5 billion statewide for supportive housing units aimed at reducing homelessness, $1 billion for new multi-family rental units, 300 million for seniors housing, $90 million for new middle income housing, $80 million for mixed housing. use affordable housing development and $150 million to renovate public housing outside of New York.

Boyle said that while he recognizes the need for government support for development, Democrats in Albany have relied too heavily on such grants in the past. “It should be limited,” he said. “Relaxing regulations for developers will pave the way for more housing.”

The governor has committed $400 million in this five-year plan for homeownership programs designed to create and preserve affordable housing for low- and middle-income New Yorkers.

The state already operates a separate $539 million federal program, the Homeowner Assistance Fund, to provide assistance to New Yorkers at risk of losing their homes because they are behind on mortgage, tax or utility payments. .

The budget funds the $20 million Landlord Protection Program, which funds nonprofits providing mortgage advice and foreclosure prevention and $35 million to fund free legal assistance for low-income tenants. returned outside of New York facing deportation.

The governor has also committed $2 million to fair housing testing and education. Through testing, nonprofits hire people to pose as potential tenants or buyers to identify individuals or organizations that engage in housing discrimination. New York State has stepped up its commitment to testing housing discrimination following Newsday’s Long Island Divided series, which uncovered evidence of discrimination against Black, Hispanic and Asian homebuyers.

The state legislature must approve the budget by April 1, when fiscal year 2023 begins.

Penny D. Jackson