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Comptroller Calls for Long-Overdue Overhaul of City's Property Tax System

New York City

Property tax reform, 421-a, co-ops and condos.

New York City's tangled system of property taxation has been likened to a bowl of spaghetti – and worse.

June 17, 2022

City Comptroller Brad Lander, along with a slew of housing advocates and state and city politicians, rallied Thursday morning outside the Dinkins Municipal Building to call for broad property tax reform in New York now that the state’s controversial 421-a affordable housing tax break has expired, Crain's reports.

“Its expiration yesterday gives us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fix what is broken in New York City’s property tax system,” Lander said of 421-a. “It is going to take a big coalition to do it, because a once-in-a-generation opportunity requires a once-in-a-generation coalition of people.”

Supporters of the effort at Thursday’s rally included state Sens. Liz Krueger and Brian Kavanagh, Assembly member Harvey Epstein and the City Council’s minority leader, Joe Borelli.

“No one in this city can actually explain why your taxes are this and your taxes are that," Krueger said. "It doesn’t matter what community you live in or what status you have. When people can’t understand taxation, they’re sure there’s a scam going on, and I don’t know that I can prove that’s not true.”

Lander has long been a harsh critic of the 421-a program, which expired June 15. It provided developers with a tax break in exchange for making 30% of the units in their residential projects affordable. A March report from Lander’s office estimated that the break would cost the city almost $1.8 billion in tax revenue this fiscal year, and the comptroller re-emphasized his stance that the state should allow it to expire and focus on enacting broader property tax reform.

During budget negotiations earlier this year, Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed replacing the tax break with a 485-w program, which would have permanently subjected all affordable units to rent stabilization and eliminated eligibility for higher earners. But the governor’s proposal did not make it into the final budget agreement. The Legislature did not pass any extension of the program during its recent session.

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