The Real Deal New York

State Senate leader wants to extend property tax cap to NYC

Flanagan says 2 percent cap would result in “multibillion-dollar savings" for city residents

September 30, 2015 05:30PM

John Flanagan Bill de Blasio

From left: Bill de Blasio and John Flanagan

New York State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan wants to extend the state’s property tax cap to New York City – saying such a move would have provided “multibillion-dollar savings for the people of the city of New York” if implemented over the past five years.

The state’s tax cap, which exempts New York City, makes it difficult for localities and school districts to raise property taxes by more than 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. Upstate New York has some of the highest property tax rates in the country, while suburban counties north of New York City have some of the highest property tax bills.

Now Flanagan says a similar system should be in place in the city – a move opposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose administration uses tax revenue to build affordable housing. The mayor’s plan calls for more than $8 billion in city funding for affordable housing over the next 10 years.

“When I talk to people involved in commercial real estate, and I don’t have the exact number, but they’re saying land costs are astronomically high, and taxes are one of the big reasons why it’s very difficult to build affordable housing,” Flanagan said.

The Senate majority leader’s comments are somewhat surprising as no major interest groups have mounted any sort of public campaign to bring a tax cap to the city — where property taxes are relatively low there because city income taxes generate so much revenue, according to Crain’s.

A de Blasio spokesperson said Flanagan’s proposal “would add an arbitrary, unnecessary and restrictive cap to the New York City property tax code – which already has a number of existing caps – and cost the city billions, resulting in severe cuts to vital services such as public safety and education.” [Crain’s]Rey Mashayekhi