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ALBANY — State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found millions of dollars in tax credits under the state’s property tax freeze program that were paid in error because of calculation errors, because credits were given to out-of-state residents or to taxpayers too wealthy to collect the tax break, or to others who were claiming a break for their vacation or business, an audit released Thursday states.
DiNapoli did a spot check of the higher-risk cases in the state Taxation and Finance Department’s program that provided $600.7 million in tax credits through checks in 2015 from the state to offset some of the nation’s highest local property taxes.
DiNapoli found violations of the program in nearly 32,000 of almost 139,000 tax credits. In all, DiNapoli questioned $8 million in tax breaks. The vast majority of the questioned cases — 25,567 payments worth $5.4 million — were blamed on calculation errors by local and state officials.
The tax department said the comptroller approved 99 percent of the more than 2 million property tax freeze checks last year worth more than $600 million were approved by the comptroller’s office with no changes.
“The remaining checks were quickly corrected, approved by [the comptroller’s office], and issued without error,” said tax department spokesman James Gazzale. “The tax department always works directly with local assessors to ensure tax data is submitted accurately and on-time.”
The state had to standardize data from 3,775 local government offices.