The bubble I am talking about is your property tax bill.  As we continue to battle through another budget, there has been a great deal of conversation about how to lower the burden of property taxes for New Yorkers.

In June of 2008, Governor Paterson issued a report on the effects of property taxes in New York.  In that report he states the following, “The growth rate of property taxes in this state is unsustainable, especially for the elderly, working families and small businesses just starting out. All of us understand that the cap is a blunt instrument, but it is needed to force hard choices and to address the fact that New York’s local tax burden is the highest in the nation. No matter what else happens, the choice of raising property taxes above a capped amount without voter approval is not an option.”

One option that has been advanced is a circuit-breaker.  We have not endorsed this process over a hard property tax cap for three key reasons.  They are:

  1. A circuit-breaker reduces property taxes that exceed a certain percentage of a particular taxpayer’s income. Circuit-breakers identify the individual taxpayers for whom property taxes are most burdensome and reduce their tax to a manageable level.
  2. New York has 4 million property taxpayers outside of New York City. Depending on how the circuit-breaker was structured, it may only benefit one quarter of those taxpayers, whereas the cap would benefit all of them.
  3. This process simply moves the money around.  It’s a shell game and does nothing to get to the root causes of what drives up property taxes.

Unshackle Upstate has recommended a REAL property tax cap proposal that has a proven track record in Massachusetts.  You remember that joke from a decade or so ago when we referred to them as “Taxachusetts”?  Well, when it comes to property taxes we can no longer say that.  Here’s why:

  • New York State has the highest local taxes in the United States – 79% above the national average.
  • Property taxes are rising at more than twice the rate of inflation and salary growth.
  • When property tax rates are calculated as a percentage of home value, the top ten counties with the highest rates in the country are in New York State. In addition, Nassau, Westchester and Rockland Counties are in the nation’s top ten in terms of total household taxes.
    • Outside of New York City, 62% of property taxes are school property taxes. (The remaining 38% is divided among counties, cities, towns and special districts.) Despite record increases in State Aid for Education and funding for the School Tax Relief (STAR) Program, school property taxes continue to rise beyond what many property owners can afford.

We need you to help us get property tax reform enacted in this legislative session.  It’s time to take action and demand that our elected officials enact a tax cap at no more than 2.5 percent NOW! Click here to send a message to your state representatives. We don’t have time to wait for their political gamesmanship to end.

Judgment Day for the legislature is coming… and we are watching.