Senator Johnson Announces Bill To Protect First Responder Tax Relief

Craig M. Johnson

March 22, 2007

GREAT NECK, N.Y. – State Senator Craig M. Johnson today announced important legislation that would protect volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers from being penalized for taking part in property tax relief programs.

The measure would amend state tax law to prevent local property tax breaks granted to first responders from being counted as adjusted gross income and subjected to state and local income tax. Under the current law, the property tax benefits could be considered income, “creating a tax shift instead of a tax break,” Johnson said.

“Time and time again our first responders valiantly put themselves in harm's way for the good of their neighbors and their community,” Johnson, (D-Port Washington), said. “The least we can do is protect the tax relief given to those who protect us.”

“This is especially important in Nassau County, where our middle-class homeowners– many of whom make up the ranks of our first responders – are overburdened with some of the highest property taxes in the country,” he continued.

Johnson, surrounded by fire chiefs and officials from across the 7th Senate District, announced his measure at the The Vigilant Fire Company in Great Neck.

Legislation went into effect last year that allowed state and local governments to offer a 10 percent property tax reduction to members of volunteer fire and ambulance companies.

Nassau County, along with nearly every local government and school district within its borders, adopted this benefit, Nassau County Fire Commissioner Andrew DeMartin said.

“These communities adopted this program as a way to say thank you to our firefighters and our ambulance workers,” DeMartin said. “In that spirit, Senator Johnson's bill must be passed to make sure that this tax relief becomes true tax relief.”

Senator Johnson's proposal would apply only to state and local income taxes.

Fire officials are pursuing a similar bill on the federal level to make these tax rebate programs exempt from federal income tax.

The 7th Senate District encompasses the entire Town of North Hempstead. It also includes the communities of Elmont, Floral Park, South Floral Park, Stewart Manor, Bellerose, Bellerose Terrace, and parts of Franklin Square and Hicksville.