Seward Unveils Major Property Tax Overhaul

James L. Seward

July 13, 2007

At a press conference at the home of a Catskill family, Senator James L. Seward today unveiled legislation that would cut property taxes for families and senior citizens.

The New York "Stop Taxing Our Property" Reform plan (NY-STOP) offers the complete elimination of residential school property taxes in school districts that vote to phase out property taxes over five years, with revenue replaced with additional state funding.

"Property taxes are killing families and senior citizens -- it's the number one issue I hear wherever I go," said Senator Seward.

"I've been fighting for increased property tax rebates and increases in school aid, yet property taxes keep rising and people need more relief," Seward added. "The legislation is a dramatic step forward to reform a system of property taxation that is an enormous burden to homeowners. With our NY-STOP package, we will put more money back into the pockets of hardworking homeowners, help thousands of seniors remain in their homes, and encourage young New Yorkers to stay, work and raise a family right here in New York State."

Senate bill 6119 -- The New York "Stop Taxing Our Property" Reform Plan (NY-STOP) -- would: give school districts the authority to eliminate residential property taxes over five years, with revenue replaced by additional state funding; impose an immediate freeze on property tax assessments for seniors; create a blue ribbon commission on property tax reform and enact comprehensive mandate relief measures to help lower costs for school districts and municipalities.

ELIMINATING RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY TAXES. Under S.6119, every school district would be authorized to take a public vote to determine if real property taxes on primary residences would be phased out over five years and be replaced by additional state funding. Districts that approve the system would be required to reduce residential real property taxes on primary homes by 20 percent annually until the property tax was eliminated after five years. A new state aid formula would be created to fully reimburse districts. After five years, the formula would provide districts with an annual school aid cost-of-living increase.

PROPERTY TAX FREEZE FOR SENIOR CITIZENS. The senate’s proposal would provide immediate tax relief to hundreds of thousands of seniors across the state by freezing the real property assessed value of their homes at a fixed rate, while also providing state reimbursement to municipalities for lost real property tax revenue.

BLUE RIBBON PROPERTY TAX REFORM COMMISSION. The plan includes a blue ribbon property tax reform commission. The eleven-member commission, which would include experts in the fields of education, municipal finance and assessment administration, would examine the property tax system and offer reforms to relieve homeowners and other property owners of their increasing tax burdens (S.1052).

MANDATE RELIEF. The senate’s reform plan also includes a comprehensive mandate relief plan in order to help reduce costs to school districts, municipalities and local taxpayers. The measure would require the state to pick up the cost of any state mandated program imposed on municipalities or school districts.