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Is Property Tax Reform Finally Coming?

Park Slope, Brooklyn

Tax Reform
Feb. 1, 2018

Stop me if you’ve heard this one a few dozen times before: the mayor of New York City has promised to move soon to reform the city’s arcane, inequitable property-tax system. Sound like something you’ve been hearing since Ed Koch was mayor?

Well, Bill de Blasio, after promising to reform the city’s property taxes during both of his successful runs for the mayor’s office, made the promise again this week, Crain’s reports. “We will have much more to say on the property tax issue in the next few weeks,” de Blasio said at a press conference in Brooklyn. “It’s clearly a priority for the second term. We will, I believe, fundamentally, end up with a more straightforward, more transparent, more consistent property-tax system for homeowners and co-op owners and condo owners. But we have to ultimately be revenue-neutral in terms of its impact on the whole city. And those are the ground rules that I will proceed with.”

Jacques Jiha, director of the city Department of Finance, is scheduled to appear today at a Manhattan Chamber of Commerce event titled “Reforming the Property Tax in NYC.” Also on the program are Citizens Budget Commission President Carol Kellermann and Real Estate Board of New York President John Banks – both endorsers of the lawsuit brought by a group called Tax Equity Now, an unlikely coalition of real estate developers and civil rights activists . The group’s lawsuit contends that some wealthy homeowners get preferential tax treatment at the expense of minorities.

One of those wealthy homeowners is named Bill de Blasio, owner of two townhouses in Park Slope, Brooklyn that have benefitted from the current property tax system, which bars the city from raising tax assessments more than 6 percent a year or 20 percent over five years. Those caps have been especially beneficial to homeowners in areas of rapidly rising values, such as Park Slope.

“You’re going to hear some very specific actions soon,” de Blasio said. Try, if possible, to curb your enthusiasm.

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