How The NYS Legislature Spells Property Tax Relief: Cut A Check!
Homeowners in New York will, indeed, be getting a check in the mail sometime before Election Day, both the Assembly and the Senate passing a measure that "rebates" an average of $250 to property taxpayers.
Those in areas where the property taxes are highest -- i.e., Westchester and Nassau counties -- will see slightly higher amounts in their rebate checks, as will seniors.
Whatever the amount of the check, forget about either spending it all in one place, or, for that matter, spending it all. As a property tax refund, you will owe State income taxes on any money you receive. The Legislature giveth, and the Legislature taketh away!
The property tax rebate is the second coming for the New York State Legislature, whose initial foray into buying votes -- an intended rebate program as part and parcel of this year's budget -- was scuttled by the Governor as "unconstitutional."
"Property taxes were the first and only issue we talked about when the Senate Republicans sat down at the beginning of the year," Senator Michael A. L. Balboni, a Republican from Nassau County, told The New York Times.
"When we went down the list, saying what's the priority, it was property taxes, property taxes, property taxes," Mr. Balboni said. "God put Republicans on this earth to cut taxes." [God, it should be known, also told George Bush that he should run for president, and later, that he should invade Iraq (as in, Who Would Jesus Bomb?). And, lest we forget, He also warned Pat Robertson about the tsunami. If these are the people God is talking to nowadays, it kinda makes you wonder, doesn't it?]
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (to whom God speaks only through an aide), in highlighting the legislation, pointed to "other tax relief for working families achieved in this year, including the child tax credit, capping the gasoline tax and the elimination of both the sales tax on clothing and the marriage penalty tax."
Yup, these measures have really saved New Yorkers a bundle, haven't they? We venture an educated guess that the property tax rebate will afford homeowners about as much relief from the onerous tax as the cap on the gasoline tax has saved them at the pump!
So, what has the State Legislature really done this session in terms of reform vis-a-vis the arcane and regressive property tax, other than to offer an olive branch to voters in the form of a rebate check, while sheathing the property tax machete behind legislators' backs, ready to strike with the next property tax bill? Uhhh, absolutely nothing.
And what are voters going to do in November, when every seat in the New York State Legislature will be up for grabs? Wait for God to speak to them in the voting booth, we suppose.
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God does not speak through or to The Community Alliance. He does, however, approve this message.
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Click HERE to read Harvey Levinson's Letter Published In Newsday On 6-4-06 Regarding “STAR” Program Rebate Checks (PDF)
Click HERE to read Lawrence Levy's, Fear Could Press Pols To Do More Than A Rebate
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In 1999, the NEW JERSEY State Legislature devised a similar property tax rebate, signed into law by then NJ Governor Christine Whitman. Opponents criticized the plan as falling short of true property tax reform.
Today, New Jersey's property taxes continue to rise, annual rebates notwithstanding, leaving New Jersey homeowners with a property tax levy that is among the highest in the nation [Not to worry, New York. You're still #1!], and the Garden State deeply in debt.
Apparently, the lessons of history do not cross the Hudson River, or waft their way from the State House in Trenton to the Legislative Chambers in Albany.