Bill Morris in Legal/Financial on May 4, 2021
More than a year after it released its preliminary report offering 10 ways to reform New York City’s property tax system, the Advisory Commision on Property Tax Reform has announced that it is relaunching the public hearing process, beginning with virtual hearings in Staten Island on May 11 and in Brooklyn on May 27. Virtual hearings will soon be scheduled in all five boroughs. With eight months left in the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has repeatedly vowed to reform the city’s archaic and unloved property-tax system, the commission is in effect holding hearings on the results of the earlier hearings.
Not everyone is thrilled. “Forgive us for not being overjoyed at the beginning of hearings on recommendations six months before the mayor leaves office,” the pro-reform group Tax Equity Now New York (TENNY) said in a statement. “But the city could have chosen to address this inequity at any point in the last eight years and chose not to. It is increasingly clear we need the courts to force the city and state to deal with this problem since they have been slow-walking taking action on this for years."
TENNY, a coalition of New York City homeowners and renters, trade associations, larger property owners and civil rights and social justice groups, has been fighting the city in court, so far without success, claiming the current system of taxation discriminates against low-income and minority homeowners.
On January 31, 2020 – more than a month before the coronavirus pandemic swept through the city – the Advisory Commission on Property Tax Reform released a preliminary report based on extensive public hearings. Two of its 10 recommendations had huge implications for housing cooperatives and condominiums. They were: to move co-ops, condos and rental buildings with up to 10 units into a new residential class along with one- to three-family homes; and to stop valuing co-ops and condos on the basis of comparable rental properties and instead peg their valuations to market sales.
The commission had been formed in 2018 by de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson with a mandate to reform the city’s property-tax system while ensuring there is no reduction in revenue used to fund essential city services. As a result of that zero-sum mandate, any reform will produce an equal number of winners and losers, making reform a political hot potato that politicians have been dodging for decades.
The commission is soliciting input from the public on the recommendations in the preliminary report. The public can submit feedback by emailing it to PropTaxInfo@propertytaxcommission.nyc.gov or uploading it through the commission's online portal by clicking here.
Citizens are also invited to testify at the virtual public hearings. To do so, speakers must register on the commission’s website here. Anyone wishing to testify must register no later than 24 hours in advance of the hearing. Following registration, speakers will receive further instructions.
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