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Bellone seeks tax deadline extension to those hurt economically amid pandemic

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone  Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced Wednesday that he is seeking to effectively extend the May 31 property tax deadline for those economically impacted by the coronavirus shutdown to July 15.

Bellone said he will submit a letter to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, requesting an executive order giving struggling taxpayers an additional 45 days to pay without late fees and penalties.

The extension would apply to homeowners who have lost at least 25% of their income and businesses that have lost 50% of their incomes if they net $1 million or less a year, Bellone said.

The move seeks to aid homeowners who have not yet received their unemployment checks and businesses that have not gotten federal payroll protection loans, he said.

“It gives taxpayers some more time while our economy is shut down,” Bellone said.

The county charges an initial late penalty of 5% interest, plus a 1% monthly interest dating from four months before the deadline, an official said. 

Bellone said he waited to call for an extension until a municipal finance working group devised a plan on how to afford a delay in tax revenues. He said an extension is now feasible thanks to federal coronavirus relief funding and expected access to a new Federal Reserve borrowing program.

Property owners would just need to fill out a form attesting to the fact that they fit the criteria for an extension, Bellone said. It applies only to those who pay their taxes directly to town tax receivers, not to those who pay through their mortgages. 

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Average Suffolk property taxes were $9,472 in 2018, according to real estate information company Attom Data Solutions.

“This is the difference between life and death for many households and small businesses,” said Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer, who heads the county’s town supervisors association.

But Suffolk comptroller John Kennedy expressed concern that the county will struggle to meet its $37 million biweekly payroll and a $332 million debt payment due July 23 with a tax extension.

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Cuomo last month approved extending the May 11 school tax deadline in Nassau to June 1.

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