ALBANY — The State Senate is proposing to compensate Nassau County homeowners who see their taxes rise under a new property reassessment program.
Qualifying homeowners would be able to claim a tax credit to offset any tax increases implemented in the first year of County Executive Laura Curran’s proposed five-year phase-in for new assessments of residential properties. Over the next seven years, the tax credit would continue, but at gradually decreasing rates. Homeowners with more than $500,000 annual income wouldn’t be eligible.
Curran’s idea of a five-year phase-in of the tax impact of reassessment appears almost certain to be approved by state lawmakers, since the Senate, the Assembly and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo all have included it as part of their versions of a state budget. A key question now is whether the Senate’s idea for tax credits to accompany the phase-in wins approval.
The tax-credit initiative was driven by Long Island Democrats, whose victories in November were key to the party winning control of the Senate from Republicans.
"The Democratic Senators from Long Island made it clear we will always stand up for our constituents and communities, and we are proving that with this budget resolution,” Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hempstead) said in a statement. “We worked tirelessly to ensure our Senate Majority colleagues understood the situation Nassau County property owners are facing.”
Nassau County would have to opt into the program and contribute nearly $70 million through sales tax it collects — the state would spend $3 for every $1 the county contributes. Senate officials estimated it would cost about $27 million in state funds the first year and more than $200 million overall.
The bottom line of the program, backers said, is that a Nassau homeowner who would be facing, say, a $4,000 tax-bill hike during the first year of the reassessment wouldn’t be paying the full increase until the eighth year of the program.
A Nassau Republican said the idea sounded like an “election-year ploy” to benefit Curran when she would be up for re-election in 2021.
“It sounds good, the five-year phase-in — but let’s see the details,” said Donald Clavin Jr., the Hempstead Town receiver of taxes and the GOP’s candidate for town supervisor. “It’s also curious that the biggest tax credit seems to come in the election year of the county executive and, after that, we’re back to reality.”
The Democratic-led Senate tucked the initiative into a state budget proposal it unveiled Tuesday. It would have to be approved by the Democratic-led Assembly and Gov. Cuomo as part of New York’s overall spending plan, which is supposed to be adopted by April 1.
A spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said the proposal would be considered in budget negotiations. Cuomo’s office didn’t immediately comment.
Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) called the plan a “wise investment” and said the $200 million or so spent over the seven years would be a small fraction of the $1 trillion the state will spend as a whole over that time period.
“Certainly, it’s not the fault of the homeowner that the assessment system has been out of whack for so long and people are going to see increases,” he said. “If the state is able to provide tax relief in the form of credits . . . I think it’s a wise investment in protecting overtaxed Long Islanders.”