Lawmakers adopt property tax relief option, allowing installments or late payments

Lawmakers this week passed a measure that, if signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, would allow school districts, counties and other entities that levy property taxes to allow installment payments, or up to a grace of 120 days.

The bill has been described as a way to provide relief to homeowners who have lost their jobs or income due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has crippled the state’s economy.

“The passage…allows tax jurisdictions to provide much-needed support to those who are struggling to meet basic family needs, such as food and medicine, without further fear that they will face tax penalties. land that they are currently unable to pay. said Long Island Democratic Senator Monica Martinez, who sponsored the bill with Congressman Steve Stern, another Long Island Democrat.

A few tax districts, largely in the downstate, as well as the city of Albany already have installment plans of some sort. This bill would make it easier for communities to do that.

Tax experts, however, said there could be complications with the slow flow of property tax money to schools and municipalities.


This is especially true given the uncertainty about the amount of state aid to come this year, given the pandemic-related economic hardship hitting the New York budget.

“School districts with cash flow issues or insufficient reserves could be adversely affected by a delay in paying property taxes, especially if the state cuts school aid by 20 percent,” said Michael Borges, executive director of the Association of School Business Officials of New York.

Cuomo suggested the state could be forced to cut school aid by 20% if there is a shortfall in federal aid.

“School taxes for most upstate residents aren’t due until September, so it’s hard to predict what will happen then,” he added.

“We are still reviewing this legislation,” said Mark LaVigne, deputy director of the New York State Counties Association.

“At the moment, we believe that there are shortcomings which would make its implementation impossible and therefore not achieve the expected impact.” He did not specify what the specific shortcomings were.

David Friedfel, director of state studies at the Citizens Budget Commission, agreed that the unknowns surrounding state aid should give some municipalities a second thought about changing the collection of property taxes.

“They have to be careful about any state aid because that can be delayed as well,” he said.

Property taxes can be especially important for smaller municipalities such as villages or rural towns that don’t receive much sales tax revenue, he added.

The extent to which property taxes will present a crisis for New Yorkers is not known. Cuomo previously issued an order extending until August 20 a moratorium on rents for those unable to pay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the pressure for relief hasn’t been as strong for homeowners.

Many homeowners have their taxes rolled into their monthly payments through escrow accounts, so increases are harder to notice.

But not all banks offer escrow services, and people whose homes are paid for make their own payments, usually in September when most school taxes come out, and in January with city and county taxes.

rkarlin@timesunion.com 518 454 5758 @RickKarlinTU

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