The rampant growth of property taxes throughout New York State over the past quarter century has fueled an ever-growing demand for relief in the form of exemptions. But higher taxes call for more relief, which results in higher taxes. It’s a vicious cycle.
Since 1992, the Executive and Legislature have launched at least three major initiatives geared toward pulling the state out of this cycle. They explored reforming New York’s burgeoning ranks of property tax exemptions and the hodgepodge of fiscal relief mechanisms the state employs to help local governments cope with land taken off their tax rolls. Several smaller, though noteworthy, investigations have also been conducted by various Senate and Assembly committees and Executive agencies and commissions.
In the end dozens of recommendations have been forwarded, but only a handful has been enacted. In the meantime, the number of exemptions statewide has grown to 4.6 million in 2008, up 292 percent from 1.2 million in 1997. Excluding all School Tax Relief (STAR) programs, which are unique state-funded property tax exemptions that initially took effect in 1998, exemptions rose by almost 6 percent during the 11-year period.
The full report is attached as a pdf file.