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SUBJECT: Evaluating the needs for and costs of New York State property tax exemptions.

New York State is rapidly approaching the point where the tax exempt status provided to nonprofit organizations, educational organizations and other institutions may require re-evaluation in lieu of the jump in property values over the past decade. Between 2000 and 2008, the total equalized exempt value of property statewide rose 80 percent to $797.1 billion, according to the New York State Office of Real Property Services. With property tax exemptions climbing toward unsustainable levels and imposing greater burdens on local and county governments, the Senate Select Committee on Budget and Tax Reform will convene a roundtable meeting to  assess the costs and payoffs of these relief measures.

Roundtable discussions should relate New York State’s property tax exemptions. Some of the questions the Select Committee intends to ask include:

• In what ways are property tax exemptions succeeding or failing to fulfill their original intentions?
• How can the state better control and/or limit the amount of tax exempt property to prevent further erosion of local government tax bases?
• Should state lawmakers reconsider the definitions for what qualifies as tax exempt property or institute a policy of partial exemptions?
• How would the state constitution influence attempts to reform the property tax exemption system?
• How has the distribution of tax exemptions impacted economic development activities and revenue streams in urban and suburban  areas?
• Should local governments be granted a role in determining what properties are exempt within their borders and be allowed to review whether they should repeal or reduce some exemptions?
• Are there any property tax exemption systems in other states that could serve as models for New York?