Senate Passes Harckham-Sponsored Bills on Property Tax Exemptions

Two bills sponsored by New York State Senator Pete Harckham regarding tax exemptions and the burdens they cause municipalities and taxpayers were passed today by the State Senate. Both bills now await passage by the State Assembly and review from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and his signature.

In recent years, there has been a growing debate around the state that too much real property in New York is eligible for tax exemptions, which end up depriving municipalities of much-needed revenue while causing taxpayers to make up the difference.

“Our fiscally-challenging times definitely necessitate a re-evaluation of how widely we should be granting exemptions on property,” said Harckham, who is a member of the Senate’s Local Government Committee. “I am pleased that my Senate colleagues have moved forward these two bills, both of which will offer greater clarity on whether certain exemptions are unfairly impacting our taxpayers and what gain, if any, they offer to our communities.”

One bill passed, S.3679A, will establish a property tax exemption task force, which be focus on the different property types and classifications eligible now eligible for exemption, whether the exemptions are partial or total, and the total value of each exemption. Also, the bill calls for an analysis of the exemption process. Federal exemptions and those granted by local IDAs (Industrial Development Agencies) will be evaluated as to whether they should be continued or modified.

About 33% or real property in New York State is currently exempted from one of more types of taxation, and it’s now time to see how much of that total can be returned to the tax rolls, said Harckham. The property tax exemption task force will consist of seven members appointed by the Commissioner of Taxation and finance, the comptroller, attorney general, temporary Senate president, Assembly speaker, and each minority leader. The group will be charged with issuing its report within a year.

The second bill passed, S.5312A, directs the State Board of Real Property Tax Services to study the economic impact upon different municipalities that are dealing with high percentages of tax-exempt property, usually caused by state parks and facilities within their tax districts. The study will include an assessment of how the housing market and economic development are affected by the concentration of exemptions. The bill requires that a report with recommendations on how to reduce tax burdens be completed within a year.