Tuesday, February 02, 2010

There Must Be Fifty Ways To Pay Your Taxes

But Not A Single Viable Plan To Lower Them

Here we go again!

County Legislators and Town officials mailing those "grieve your property taxes" postcards, even though the assessments are generally acknowledged to be accurate, not to mention that the folks sending those postcards are the very same fellas asserting that the costs of the assessment process are too high because too many of us file grievances. How convoluted can the illogical get?

The Governor is taking on property taxes -- like David versus a still-growing Goliath (only without the slingshot) -- offering a cap (not on  tax rates, tax levies, or school district spending, mind you), but to State expenditures (as in funding education, transportation, and health care) [Right. Like the NYS Legislature will ever kick its spending habit] linked to a so-called "circuit-breaker," which, in theory, ties property taxes to income, and provides taxpayers with a "rebate" (where have we heard "rebate" before? Oh yeah. STAR!) in years when the State has a surplus.

Surplus? How many billions in the hole is New York State? We may never see a surplus in this lifetime.

But we digress.

Surely as Winter follows Spring -- er, ahh, something like that -- "grieve your assessment" is succeeded by a message from your friendly neighborhood Receiver of Taxes expounding upon the many ways to pay that property tax bill.

Pay by mail, by credit card, by dropping by the Mobile Tax Office, or by simply passing through the Town's EZ Drive Through Payment Window.

Talk about a drive-by mugging. So many ways to relieve us of our money. Not a single, workable idea on how to keep more of it in our wallets.

But that's not all, folks. Pay your property taxes within the next ten minutes and receive not one, but two new recycling bins from the Town's sanitary district of your choice.

Wait, there's more. Pay your property tax by credit card and be automatically entered to win an all-expenses paid (by you) "staycation" in Hempstead Town, with excursions to the old Argo Theater in Elmont, a visit to Bay Park to breathe in the stench of raw sewage, and a stroll through the grand avenues of beautiful downtown Baldwin. [Hotel accomodations provided by the Courtesy in West Hempstead.]

Yes, your tax dollars are at work in Nassau County. Just ask Peter Schmitt and Kate Murray, as they join the choir of politicos on the stage of the old Argo for a remake of Brother Can You Spare A Dime. [No, it's not We Are The World, but Kate does do a terrific (as in terrifying) Susan Boyle.]

So pay those property taxes, ladies and germs, electronically (plus applicable fees for the "convenience"), on foot, by post, or from the comfort of your car as you drive-down beautiful Hempstead Turnpike.

Remember, in Hempstead Town, as in Nassau County, they're never short of ways to spend your money, and they don't take American Express.
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From the Town of Hempstead

Clavin Reminds Taxpayers Of Convenient Tax Payment Options

Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Donald Clavin reminds taxpayers to take advantage of a variety of options offered by his office for payment of the first half 2010 General Taxes. Clavin has instituted a number of conveniences including extended hours, satellite offices, mobile tax office, drive through payment window and online payments.

Payments for the First Half 2010 General Taxes received or postmarked by the February 10 deadline will be penalty-free.

"Take advantage of our drive through payment window where you can pay your taxes from the comfort of your car, or pay your tax bill electronically using e-check," said Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin. "Our mobile office brings town government to local neighborhoods, while satellite offices in Hicksville and Lawrence serve communities some distance from Town Hall."

The E-Z Pay Drive Thru Payment Window is located behind the tax office at 200 North Franklin Street (follow the signs on the corner of Bedell Street and North Franklin Street). The payment window will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., business days, February 1 through February 10 and will accept checks and money orders only. Taxpayers are reminded to bring their tax stub in order to take advantage of this service.

During peak collection times, hours of operation at the main tax office located at 200 North Franklin Street in Hempstead will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (February 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 10). "Our fully-staffed main office is able to assist taxpayers with account inquiries and all forms of payment," Clavin noted.

Satellite offices at Rock Hall Museum (located at 199 Broadway in Lawrence) and Levittown Hall (located at 201 Levittown Parkway in Hicksville) will be open to receive checks and money orders for tax payments from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on February 4, 5, 8, 9 and 10.

Residents who would like to pay via credit card or e-check may log onto the town's website at www.TOH.LI and follow the "Receiver of Taxes" link to "Online Tax Payments," or call Official Payments Corporation at 1-877-306-6056. A 2.5 % convenience fee payable to Official Payments Corporation, the company that processes the credit card transaction, will be incurred for credit card payments, while a flat fee of $2.00 will be charged per each e-check transaction. Hempstead Town receives no portion of these fees.

The Mobile Tax Office is scheduled to visit the following locations from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.:

Monday, February 1- Elmont Memorial Library, 700 Hempstead Tpke., Elmont

Tuesday, February 2- Town Parking Lot O-3, Davison Avenue, Oceanside (directly across from Oceanside Library)

Thursday, February 4- Merrick Senior Center - Merrick Senior Center, 2550 Clubhouse Road, Merrick. (Payments will be collected inside building.)

Friday, February 5- Franklin Square Senior Center, 1182 Martha Pl., Franklin Square (Payments will be collected inside building.)

"Supervisor Kate Murray and I remain committed to assisting taxpayers in every possible manner. In addition providing taxpayers with beneficial information that can help reduce their tax burden, my office continues to put great ideas into action that are beneficial to the taxpayers," concluded Clavin.

For further information visit the town's website http://www.toh.li/ or contact the Office of Receiver of Taxes at (516) 538-1500.
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From Governor David Paterson:

Dear New York Taxpayer,

Last week, I proposed an Executive Budget for 2010-2011 that includes a spending cap to control state spending. Tied to that cap is a property tax circuit breaker that would provide property tax refunds to New York's working families. The spending cap will impose long-term fiscal discipline by forcing state government to live within its means. The cap puts New York State on a path to economic recovery that will lead to future budget surpluses -- which will then be returned to taxpayers through property tax relief.

My 2010-2011 Executive Budget not only meets, but will exceed the requirements of my spending cap. Under my proposed budget, expenditures for the coming fiscal year would be far below the rate of inflation. Additionally, if enacted by the Legislature, my spending cap would require sufficient spending cuts to generate a more than $1 billion surplus in the 2011-12 fiscal year. This is great news for both the fiscal health of our State, and you, our taxpayers, as I will return this surplus to you through a progressive, circuit-breaker tax credit that will place billions of dollars in property tax relief directly into your pockets.

The circuit-breaker benefit included in my proposal would be calculated by limiting your property tax burden to a specified percentage of your income. That percentage would decrease based on the size of the State’s surplus. And as New York’s fiscal condition improves, the circuit-breaker program could provide you with an increasingly larger benefit, since you would pay an increasingly smaller percentage of your income in property taxes.

The amount of recipients and the average value of the benefit would increase based on the size of the State’s budget surplus. At the close of each fiscal year, the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance would calculate the benefit after the Division of the Budget has certified the size of the surplus and directed a portion to the Rainy Day Fund. Average projected benefits are included below:

Surplus                        Recipients               Average Tax Credit
$100M -$500M          868,000                           $589

$500M-$1B             1,063,000                           $943

$1B-$1.5B               1,322,000                           $1,129

$1.5B-$2B               1,668,000                           $1,188

$2B-$3B                  2,125,000                           $1,405

In order to provide real property tax relief to everyday New Yorkers, this initiative would also require local school districts to do their part to control spending. Therefore, the circuit-breaker proposal includes a provision to encourage fiscal responsibility at the local level by pressing localities to keep spending and property tax bills under control.

I have long stated my commitment to bringing New York’s fiscal house back in order. And just like all of you, I am working hard on your behalf to control our State’s spending. It is now up to the Legislature to enact these proposals that will generate surpluses for years to come, and will bring property tax relief directly to you and your families.

David A. Paterson
Governor of New York State
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So, how do YOU spell property tax relief? We'd like to hear from you at The Community Alliance. Write us with your thoughts, comments, ideas, and guest blogs at thecommunityalliance@yahoo.com.
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  1. When it comes to taxes, you can rely on our political leaders to do everything possible to avoid facing up to the tough tasks that need to be undertaken in order to bring about meaningful relief. At the state level, nobody wants to take on the employee unions, particularly the teachers, and so we are making no progress in terms of reducing out-of-control labor and pension costs. This latter issue in particular, is a ticking time-bomb posing a major risk to the state's future fiscal integrity. Beyond this, nobody's leading in terms of school district consolidation, and nobody's really doing anything about these crazy special districts, among other pressing priorities.

    At the county level, we're wasting a lot of time talking about assessments - perhaps so our local county legislator or town supervisor can then look like a hero by totally smoking the voting public with gratuitous reminders about our right to appeal assessments. On the other hand, it seems to be strangely quiet when it comes to facing up to the fact that the county budget is a structural mess, and with almost half of all county expenditures allocated to labor and benefits, the direction that needs to be taken in terms of actually reducing the county budget and delivering meaningful tax relief, is palpably obvious.

    Meanwhile, back at the Town of Hempstead, never is heard a discouraging word, in part because it would be difficult to find the words to describe the utter neglect town leadership has exhibited relative to such urgent priorities as economic development, infrastructure improvement, and yes, tax relief. Instead I get to hear about the new and convenient ways in which I can pay my extraordinary taxes, that is, when I'm not getting mailings informing me of the latest happenings at town parks - such as the fact that I can now take a town course in "Kundalini Yoga" whatever the hell that is. Have to admit though, I was interested in that Kickboxing course - might be a great way to get out the frustration I feel with my elected representatives.

  2. The TOH Online payment indicates a 2.5% convenience fee of the total payment! I think 2.5% is a bit steep if you are paying $1000. Why in gods name would the fee be a percent of teh total payment if you are using a credit card?? Sounds like a tax to me.

  3. Change -

    The cost for processing a credit card transaction is a fixed cost - i.e., it's the same regardless of the dollar amount involved. So charging this percentage against the kind of dollar amounts typically involved in a tax bill is nothing short of a rip-off. No wonder Hempstead is hawking this "convenience" so much.

  4. 2.5% is very high. I can't imagine the Town couldn't negotiate a better rate considering their tremendous volume. Or maybe they struck a deal with one of one of Kate's friends for the processing. We all know how those go...

    Regarding the assessment, if they reduced everyone's assessment to 0 tomorrow, does that mean we don't pay any taxes? Of course not which is why fixing the assessment is nothing more than a diversion. What's going to happen when Mangano finally declares the assessment system fixed, and people realize their taxes didn't go down? Hopefully they'll throw him out and put someone else in there that's going to do the necessary cost-cutting that will make a real difference in the amount people pay in taxes!

  5. I personally think Kate and Donald Clavin need to get married. If Kate Murray had a beeter working brain, she would CONSOLIDATE all the receiver of tax locations into JUST ONE LOCATION. Why do we need multiple locations Kate? NYC has one location for 8 million residents, why can't we learn just a LITTLE from Mike Bloomberg. Kate Murray is CORRUPT and if her palm is not greased, she will continue to oppose Charlie Wang's development. PLAIN ENGLISH KATE, WE NEED JOBS NOT POLITICIANS THAT GET ELECTED AND DON'T FIGHT FOR ITS PEOPLE. Why do we need multiple fire districts, MULTIPLE SCHOOL DISTRICTS, MULTIPLE POLICE DEPARTMENTS-JUST WHY... Why does Mayor Bloomberg manage to have 1.1 million students with one chancellor - why Kate!!! If he can doit why can't we DO IT. Kate Murray and her foes are just sitting at 1 washington thinking about how to make the Town Of Hempstead WORSE.
    We need volunteers to protest these actions by the Town Of Hempstead Supervisor, we really need the people of the Town Of Hempstead to step forward and say there peace in front of Kate's office... Kate, how about rolling back your raises like the other Towns have done? Of course not, Kate you need to feed yourself more hamburgers so you can take fatty faced pictures...