Galef Urges Circuit Breaker–Not STAR Rebate Check–for Property Tax Relief

For Immediate Release Contact: Sandy Galef

(914) 941-1111

Galef Urges Circuit Breaker Approach to Tax Relief–Not STAR Rebate Check

Senate Proposal Does Not Go Far Enough to Balance the Books for Property Taxpayers Who Pay Disproportionate Taxes on their Property in Relation to their Income

(March 15, 2013) Assemblywoman Sandy Galef is calling for the state to take a serious look at an alternate tax relief program called the Circuit Breaker, in response to a provision in the New York State Senate budget that would reinstate the STAR Rebate check for property taxpayers.

Galef stated, “While I cannot see where the money would come from at this time to fund such a program, which had cost the state $1.3 billion, when and if there is additional money in the state budget, what we should be offering taxpayers is a fair and balanced approach to property tax relief based on need and income in relation to property taxes, not a rebate check program that would arrive in time to bolster politicians’ popularity at the polls and is primarily based on assessed value of property.”

“We all have an interest in helping residents afford their property taxes so they can stay in their homes,” said Galef, “but I believe the fairest system and most effective is a circuit breaker program which reviews the property taxes a resident pays in relation to his or her income and gives a credit to those taxpayers who pay the highest percentage of property taxes vs. income. Sending a check in the mail to all residents whether they are in need or not is excessive, and is not the direction our state needs to go. The general STAR and Enhanced STAR programs already in place help reduce the school taxes based on assessments. If we are financially able to expand this tax help, we must develop a circuit breaker program to target help to those struggling with high taxes yet who have little income to pay them.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo has recently recommended changing the STAR program to route out people who may be double dipping by illegally receiving STAR discounts on property that is not their primary residence. Such abuses in this program are costing New Yorkers millions of dollars. According to a new report, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli predicted that these abuses could cost the state $73 million by 2016 if nothing is done.

In addition, the Senate proposal calls for the rebate check program to go into effect even if there is no state money yet with which to pay these checks. It would give taxpayers a credit they can collect on in the future.

“For the state to issue IOUs to property taxpayers would be a huge mistake. We are already in a hole because of promises we made that we could pay pension benefits which we cannot now afford. Now the Senate wants to promise tax rebate credits that could build for years and years to come, yet we do not know if we will be able to afford them in the future. We all want to help taxpayers, but this is an irresponsible approach. When we get to the point where the state can afford to directly help our taxpayers, we absolutely should, but via a fair and balanced program such as the Circuit Breaker tax credit that would be established through the New York State Taxation and Finance Department, and offer help to those who need it most,” concluded Galef.

Bazzo 03/15/13

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