New York State Senator Thomas P. Morahan today announced a plan by the Senate Majority to double the size of direct property tax rebate checks for senior citizen homeowners. The Senate is introducing a bill that would return about $200 million to senior citizens. Funds for the increased senior rebate checks would come from higher-than-projected State revenues realized at end of the 2006-07 state fiscal year.
"The Senate wants to double the size of property tax rebate checks for seniors to help them pay their school property taxes so they can afford to stay in their homes, " said Senator Morahan. "This is the taxpayers money and we should return it to the people who need it the most, our seniors."
The Senate budget proposed tripling property tax rebate checks for all homeowners, including seniors. However, during budget negotiations, the Governor insisted that funds for rebate checks be reduced by $200 million and, as a result, senior citizens did not receive an increase in property tax rebates in the final budget. The adopted budget included $1.3 billion for additional property tax relief which doubled the size of rebate checks for the average homeowner, but not for seniors.
The State closed out the 2006-07 fiscal year with $431 million more in tax collections than was estimated in the SFY 2007-08 Executive Budget that was released January 31, 2007. This was $331 million more than the $100 million in additional revenues agreed to in the consensus forecast on March 5, 2007. The Senate Finance Committee’s February estimate of total tax collections for the 2006-07 fiscal year was on target, far closer than the estimates of the Division of the Budget and the Assembly. These additional funds would be used to increase property tax rebate checks for senior citizens.
In his Executive Budget, the Governor proposed a total of $1.5 billion for property tax relief through an expansion of the STAR program. The additional $200 million in property tax relief being proposed by the Senate would bring total property tax relief up to the number originally proposed in the Executive Budget.