Property tax relief bill passes state senate

Savino says average senior citizen could save $1,750

May 19, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
An expansion of the state’s Senior Citizen Homeowners’ Exemption law could make more older homeowners eligible for a break in their property taxes, according to state Sen. Diane Savino. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas

Homeowners would see a big savings the next time a property tax bill arrives in the mailbox if legislation passed by state Senate eventually becomes law.

State Sen. Diane Savino is the sponsor of a bill approved last week by the Senate that would raise the income level a senior citizen homeowner could have and still be eligible for the state’s Senior Citizen Homeowners’ Exemption (SCHE) program. SCHE provides property tax exemptions to older residents living on fixed incomes.

The legislation would raise the income cap for SCHE to $50,000 a year for a full 50 percent property tax exemption and to $58,400 a year for a partial exemption. The eligibility levels have not been raised since 2006, according to Savino.

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“No senior or disabled homeowner should ever face the hard choice between paying an astronomical property tax bill or buying prescription drugs or other necessities,” said Savino (D-Coney Island-Bensonhurst-Staten Island). “ I’m proud that my legislation will bring real savings to our seniors and disabled homeowners living on fixed incomes in this city. With on average of over $1,750 saved, and in many cases more, this represents the best way to create affordability for these homeowners.

The bill also covers disabled homeowners who are eligible for the state’s Disabled Homeowners’ Exemption (DHE) program.

The SCHE and DHE programs are currently capped at $29,000.

The legislation has been sent to the state Assembly for consideration.

The Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), in which Savino is a member, pushed to increase the income eligibility for SCHE and DHE programs.

To bolster its argument, the IDC released a report, “Keeping Housing Affordable for Seniors and Disabled New Yorkers,” to illustrate how Savino’s bill would impact homeowners across New York City.

“Our seniors deserve to live out their golden years without worrying that they can no longer afford their homes, the places where they raised their children and hold cherished memories. It is important that for seniors and disabled homeowners living on tight budgets we create an affordable New York by bringing real property tax relief by raising the income eligibility for SCHE and DHE to 2017 levels. I’m proud that the IDC has been the driving force behind this policy and I thank the city for their support,” said state Sen. Jeff Klein, chairman of the IDC.

State Sen. Jesse Hamilton, an IDC member, said that property taxes often present an affordability challenge for homeowners, particularly to senior citizens in New York City.

“We need to recognize the unique circumstances these households face and accommodate their needs. That’s why I welcome these measures to raise the SCHE/DHE income thresholds and take meaningful action to make our communities more affordable,” said Hamilton (D-Crown Heights-Park Slope-Sunset Park).

Advocates for senior citizens have endorsed Savino’s bill.

“Affordable housing is the key to keeping New York City age-friendly, and property owners, just like renters, face obstacles to paying their housing costs. For many older middle-class homeowners, especially those on fixed incomes as the vast majority are, property tax bill increases can make their own homes cost-prohibitive,” AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel said.

“Offering tax relief to ensure aging New Yorkers can afford their housing is critically important to strengthening our communities and making New York a better place to live for everyone,” said Barry Kaufmann, president of the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans.


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