Do not let condo, co-op taxes rise

Recent news reports indicating that the state Legislature may not reconvene this year could be bad news for Queens co-op and condo owners. At the end of the legislative session in June, leaders reached a deal to extend and enhance the co-op and condo real property tax abatement, which was due to expire.

Unfortunately, the Legislature adjourned without enacting the measure, instead planning to take up the issue at the end of this year. If the Legislature does not meet before the year is out, co-ops and condos may face skyrocketing tax bills in January 2013. This cannot be allowed to happen.

In 1996, as a state assemblyman, I sponsored the original version of the co-op and condo real property tax abatement, which partially addresses the real property tax code’s adverse impact on co-op and condo owners. The Legislature has continually renewed the benefit until this year, and the agreement that was reached in June would allow the continuation of the abatement.

While New York state still needs to conduct a top-to-bottom evaluation of the real property tax system and reform it permanently in a way that is fair for all New Yorkers, the abatement goes a long way toward providing some relief for beleaguered co-op and condo taxpayers.

The bill would, for the first time, increase the value of the tax abatement for middle-class owners while limiting the tax break for those whose own apartments they do not use as primary residences or those who own units valued above a certain level.

These measures would help local residents deal with the outrageous real property tax assessment increases the city Department of Finance has imposed over the past few years. I have successfully fought alongside co-op and condo leaders to limit the increases, and the passage of the co-op/condo tax abatement bill by the Legislature represents our best opportunity to stabilize the situation in the short term.

For most Queens co-ops and condos, the tax abatement is vital, and its elimination would surely wreak havoc on the budgets of co-ops, condos and the middle-class families who make their homes therein.

I urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to call the Legislature into session as soon as possible to address this matter, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to do everything in his power to avoid sending out painfully high property tax bills to co-ops and condos next year.

Mark Weprin

City Councilman

(D-Oakland Gardens)

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