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Town supervisors ask Cuomo to extend deadline to pay school property taxes

Don Clavin's supervisor win in Hempstead Town marked

Don Clavin's supervisor win in Hempstead Town marked a return to Republican leadership.  Credit: Barry Sloan

Long Island town supervisors are urging Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to extend the deadline for some homeowners to pay school property taxes without penalty amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Nassau County supervisors last week asked the governor to extend their May 11 deadlines, and Suffolk’s supervisors on Monday were expected to send a letter asking to delay their May 31 deadlines, citing both public health as well as economic concerns.

“Given the current state of emergency, it is our belief that the extension would provide an immediate and additional safeguard to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, especially because many of our residents insist on paying their property taxes in person,” Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin said Thursday in a news release. “Certainly, an extension of the deadline equally would serve to allay the fears of those currently under the strain of serious economic hardship and promote a sense of calm among our residents.”

Under state real property tax law, governments can extend the filing period without penalty with permission from the governor.

A spokesman for Cuomo said he is reviewing the request but hasn’t made a decision. The governor has issued similar orders, including a January 2019 decree extending the deadline 21 days in certain towns after a severe storm.

The Treasury Department announced Friday that the deadline for federal income tax filing was extended from April 15 to July 15, and New York State made a similar announcement shortly after. But those declarations do not affect local property taxes, which are collected by the towns.

Babylon Supervisor Rich Schaffer, who also serves as the head of the Suffolk County Supervisors’ Association, said the group planned to request that penalties and interest be waived on tax bills paid before Aug. 1 in Suffolk’s 10 towns.

“We need to do whatever we can to recognize the enormity of this, hopefully, once-in-a-lifetime situation,” said Schaffer. “Everybody needs to work together to help everybody get through this.”

The Suffolk supervisors will also ask that tax grievance day be delayed from May 19 until Aug. 18 and that the assessment roll deadline be extended from May 1 until Aug. 1, Schaffer said.

The Association For a Better Long Island, an economic development group that represents developers, and the Long Island Builders Institute said in a news release that they supported a delay, stating it could mean the difference between survival or failure for some businesses.

Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman noted that the extension will not financially help property owners with mortgages, many of whom pay a portion of their tax bills to their lenders every month to be kept in escrow. He also stressed that it should be targeted to assist those who need it, like seniors.

“It will help some, but it’s not going to provide broad relief to homeowners,” Schneiderman said.