The Real Deal New York

Council speaker hopefuls urge city to reform property tax system

De Blasio administration pushes to dismiss lawsuits seeking reform
July 11, 2017 11:10AM

From left: Mark Levine, Donovan Richards, Jumaane Williams and Corey Johnson,

City Council speaker hopefuls are urging the de Blasio administration to support a lawsuit challenging the city’s property tax system.

Council members Donovan Richards, Mark Levine, Corey Johnson, Ritchie Torres and Jumaane Williams — all of whom, except Torres, have shown interest in running for Council speaker — signed a letter saying it’s wrong for the city to oppose the lawsuit, Politico reported. The complaint, filed by Tax Equity Now New York, alleges that the state’s property tax laws unfairly impact poor and nonwhite homeowners, since homes in poorer neighborhoods are often charged the same as homes in wealthier areas. The law caps assessments on one-, two- and three-family homes at 6 percent per year.

“Rather than wasting significant taxpayer money on a misguided effort to preserve an indefensible system, the city should be working with TENNY to fix it,” the council members wrote.

Though Mayor Bill de Blasio has criticized the property tax system, the city’s corporate council filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on Friday. The city argues that Tax Equity Now New York, an LLC of property owners and residents, doesn’t have standing to sue.

As it stands, the property tax law allows some homeowners to pay well under what their properties are actually worth. Last year, de Blasio paid a little over $7,000 on two Park Slope homes worth $3 million. [Politico] — Kathryn Brenzel