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Opinion

Fighting words

Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen, left, and Hempstead Receiver

Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen, left, and Hempstead Receiver of Taxes Donald X. Clavin Jr., right. Credit: James Escher

Daily Point

Summarize this!

Talk about mixed messages: The campaign mailer recently sent out by Donald Clavin, the GOP candidate for Hempstead Town supervisor and current receiver of taxes, has a very official sounding message on the envelope: "IMPORTANT — OPEN AT ONCE TAXPAYER INFORMATION ENCLOSED."

And the mailer inside the envelope is every bit as emphatic, but unusually contradictory. One flap is headed with the message “This is not a tax bill.” 

On the opposite flap, though, the headline is “Tax Impact Summary.”

“Taxpayer Fact Sheet Enclosed,” another line blares.

The mailer is a purported comparison of Clavin’s promised policies against his interpretation of the record of his opponent, Democratic Supervisor Laura Gillen. 

Some of what the mailer claims is factual, like Clavin saying Gillen opposed a large tax cut proposed by mostly Republican town board members last year. Some of it is a matter of opinion, like Clavin’s assertion that “Gillen has a bloated $2 million staff budget.” 

But some of it is downright odd, like Clavin’s paired attacks that Gillen both supports “back-door tax hikes” on people who have up until now been under-assessed, usually because they grieve frequently, and that she refuses to speak up for those over-assessed homeowners who did not grieve and will continue to overpay taxes for 5 more years if Nassau County’s proposed phase-in is enacted.

But it’s the proposed phase-in costing the second group that is the only way to soften the blow to the first group. 

Clavin's misleading messaging, though, is not so surprising, focusing as it does on a scary and complicated issue. Also notable: The mailer repeatedly uses the term “County Executive” but not her name, Laura Curran. 

What’s most notable about the mailer is its faux-official tone, which, when paired with the return address “Donald X. Clavin Jr., Receiver of Taxes," is likely to get Clavin’s envelopes a much higher open rate than more traditional homestretch mailers.

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

Movin’ out

What does President Donald Trump get out of changing his permanent residence from New York City to Palm Beach, Florida?

Certainly, there are some tax implications, according to  experts consulted by The Point. Assuming he avoids New York residency (by not spending 184 or more days a year in-state, for example) he saves on income from intangibles, like interest and dividends. Florida does not have a state income tax, while New York does. 

Upon death, Trump’s descendants also would benefit from Florida’s lack of an estate tax. 

But it’s not all free living. Post-move, he would owe city property taxes on his holdings in the five boroughs, according to a mayoral spokeswoman.

And Trump still would have to pay state income taxes on income sourced in New York, says Richard Pomp, University of Connecticut law professor and former director of the New York Tax Study Commission. 

That could include gains on the sale of New York property or income from that property, though Trump’s current holdings and future bill are hard to judge. 

“If we had his tax returns we could actually make a sophisticated judgment about what this really does mean for him,” says Pomp. (We don’t.)

In Thursday tweets, Trump cited his (unverified) tax bill plus being “treated very badly” by New York political leaders as reasons for his decision to move. 

Certainly Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio love to bash him, and he hasn’t appeared happy with Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s legal attempt to get his tax returns. Cuomo suggested in a Friday CNN appearance that Trump might be trying a legal maneuver to protect his tax returns, though Pomp did not think that Trump’s residency would have an effect on the Vance case. 

Regardless, the politics of “Trexit” are pretty win-win for the president, who kept on the topic on Friday with another typo-strewn Twitter rant.

He was never going to get many votes in deep blue New York, so the move rallies his base, which loves to bash urban liberals. And it lets him call Florida his home, as he maneuvers to nab that swing state’s crucial electoral votes.

“It’s more like he's making a statement,” said Ed Slott, a Rockville Centre CPA. What does he gain from the move, beyond some of the tax changes? “He's gaining this interview.”

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

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Final Point

Mad about housing

An Amityville meeting Wednesday about Long Island’s housing policies ended with a rally cry for a Long Island millennial march. 

“Tell them why you’re 38 and still living in your parents’ basement, tell them why you’ve been postponing getting married … tell them why you’re leaving the Island in the next few months,” Roger Weaving, president of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition told dozens of people who attended the forum hosted by the Millennial Leadership Coalition.

It was held at the recently built Greybarn apartment complex in the building’s cozy, hip lounge. nextLI recorded the event and you can watch here.

There was clear desperation and frustration in the room about Long Island’s housing challenges. Three presenters shared their expertise and experiences navigating development here, followed by questions from a receptive audience hungry for ways to fix the problems.

After working for many developers and a lot of cities, economist Todd Poole said he sees developers simply following the rules of the municipality. “So you need to talk about who makes those rules,” he said. Poole proposed the idea of a dramatic millennial walkout, people protesting the situation by leaving their workplaces for one hour.

That was dismissed by the audience (“a quick way for a lot of us to lose our jobs”) — but being loud at local meetings as a way to present a united front was not seen as far-fetched.

“You have a voice, and you need to be out at these hearings when the developers propose an affordable housing development. Support the need for that development and support the need to make it affordable,” said Peter Elkowitz, president and CEO of the Long Island Housing Partnership. He also shared resources about down payment assistance programs, credit counseling and home rehabilitation grants.

“Nothing scares them more than a big crowd,” Weaving said.

Developers Gregg Rechler, whose project was Greybarn, and Don Monte also spoke. 

“You mention affordable housing and people go crazy,” Monte said, emphasizing the need for new terminology. “Let’s call it attainable housing. Let’s call it housing for our sons, daughters, firemen, policemen, schoolteachers, the disappearing middle class.”

—Amanda Fiscina @adfiscina

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