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GOP Assemb. Ed Ra proposes tax credits to lessen impact of reassessment

Assemb. Edward Ra at his office in Garden

Assemb. Edward Ra at his office in Garden City on Aug. 6, 2018. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

Assemb. Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square) has introduced legislation to compensate homeowners whose property taxes will drop under Nassau County's reassessment — but only gradually — under a proposed phase-in of new property values over five years.

Last year, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran ordered the reassessment of county properties after nearly a decadelong freeze in values.

To ease the sticker shock of reassessment, Curran, a Democrat, proposed a five-year phase-in of changes in the tax burden. The State Legislature approved that plan, but the county legislature must pass a corresponding law for the phase-in to take effect.

The phase-in would slow tax increases for residents whose properties were underassessed.

But for owners of overassessed properties, it would take five years to reach lower values.

Ra's measure would provide homeowners expecting decreased assessments with personal income tax credits. Households with more than $500,000 in total income are not eligible for the tax credit. 

“Basically, over the five-year period, they would get the benefit of a personal income tax credit to make them whole. So from the get-go, they're [assessed] at the property value," said Ra, who is in the minority in the Democrat-controlled Assembly. 

For homeowners expecting dramatic tax reductions, "basically Nassau County is telling me I'm overpaying, and I have to wait 5 years to get me where I should be,” Ra said. “Unless there’s some outside money coming into this, the reality is there’s winners and losers."

Ra said he did not know how much the plan would cost New York State in lost income tax revenues, but suggested it could be about $100 million.

He did not say how the state would pay for it.

In March, state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck) introduced a proposal that would offer $200 million in tax credits to homeowners whose tax bills are expected to rise. The plan failed to gain traction in the State Legislature, and in April Kaplan confirmed the proposal was dead.

Mike Murphy, a spokesman for the majority State Senate Democratic caucus, did not answer directly when asked if Democrats would support Ra's proposal.

"The Senate Democratic Majority has led the way on property tax relief including finally making the cap permanent and has been at the forefront of providing relief to Nassau taxpayers including introducing our own proposal months ago," Murphy said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the majority Assembly Democratic caucus, which holds a commanding majority, did not respond to a request for comment.

Christine Geed, a spokeswoman for Curran, called Ra's bill, “a stunt with no possibility of passage … "

Geed called on GOP county legislators to pass a law opting into the five-year reassessment phase-in.

"Expecting residents of New York State to bail out Nassau County is foolish. It’s time for the Republicans to take responsibility, stop stalling and pass the Taxpayer Protection Plan," Geed said.

Legis. Steve Rhoads (R-Bellmore) backed Ra's effort.

"As a result of the phase-in as the County Executive negotiated, individuals who should've received reductions" will "continue to overpay for at least the next five years," Rhoads said in a statement. "We’re trying to correct an oversight in the phase-in plan that [Curran] negotiated in Albany.”

Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said he has not put the phase-in measure on the calendar. Republicans say they have until next summer to do so.

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