UPDATED Monday May 4, 2020, 10:49 a.m.: State Sen. David Carlucci is pushing for a bill to suspend property tax deadlines until the end of the year.
He said in a press release that the intention of his bill is to kill the quarterly payment deadlines for county, town, village and school property taxes statewide through Dec. 31.
But, as written, the bill only allows payments that were due April 15 to be deferred interest-free, according to attorney Benjamin Williams at Rosenberg & Estis.
“And [in New York City] it applies only to assessments of $250,000 or less, which are small properties, homes, and lower valued co-ops and condos,” Williams added in an email. The interest rate on late quarterly payments is normally 7 percent, compounded daily, according to Williams.
A measure as sweeping as Carlucci describes would face a difficult road to passage, given the heavy reliance of localities and school districts on property taxes and the massive budget shortfalls that many face with the economy having been largely shut down for weeks. But many property owners are looking for relief, and Carlucci is running for Congress.
Property tax is a key revenue source for governments because, as Mayor Bill de Blasio points out in his executive budget, it is “very stable in times of considerable volatility.” The city expects to collect $29.6 billion in property taxes this year — roughly a third of its income. Public schools and counties outside the city are even more dependent on property taxes.
Asked about Williams’ reading of the bill, Carlucci said by email that it is intended to apply to all four quarters of this calendar year. In an earlier interview, he also said he meant for the bill to apply to any asset class or property owner.
“Whether you’re a renter or paying property taxes,” said the senator, who represents Rockland and Westchester counties. “The relief needs to be across the board.”
He said the legislation would require property owners to prove hardship related to the pandemic, though the bill does not outline any criteria.
“What we’re saying is that the municipalities would basically create the criteria,” explained Carlucci, adding that “there’s not much requirement for anyone to show [proof of hardship].” He later noted that the bill could ultimately establish a set of best practices.
Carlucci said he wrote the bill after speaking with individual business and property owners. The senator is running for the House in New York’s 17th Congressional District, where nearly a dozen Democrats are vying to succeed the retiring Rep. Nita Lowey.
The bill was introduced April 13 but it’s unclear when the legislative session will resume in Albany. Both houses of the Legislature have passed resolutions to allow them to convene remotely, but so far that has not happened. Carlucci said it’s just a matter of time.
“I think we’re going to be passing bills,” he said. When asked when the session might resume, he said, “I don’t have that information for you but I’m confident that we will.”
Clarification: An explanation was added in the fourth paragraph to attorney Benjamin Williams’ quote.
Write to Erin Hudson at [email protected]