Avella calls for tax relief for Queens homeowners

Photo by Kelsey Durham
By Kelsey Durham

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) is calling for an extension to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed renters’ tax relief that would allow owners of small homes within New York City to be included in the tax credits.

Avella announced at a Feb. 12 news conference that he has introduced legislation that would extend the tax rebates to city residents who own and reside in a home that has three family residences or fewer. The bill also includes owners of co-ops and condominiums.

Cuomo’s original legislation, introduced in January, calls for more than $400 million in tax credits for 2.6 million state residents, including city dwellers, who rent their households and earn less than $100,000 in annual income. The bill would give renters a refundable personal income tax credit that increases based on family size.

Avella said he proposed the legislation in response to New York City’s property owners constantly being left out of state tax breaks because the city is home to more than 1 million people.

“The city has been hit with increasing taxes each year and it’s hit the hardest on owners of one-to-three-family households,” he said. “Co-ops and condos have to be treated the same as everyone else. It’s unfair to not give the same tax breaks to small property owners and it’s about time they got one.”

Avella was joined at the conference by several leaders of civic groups across Queens who backed him in saying that city property taxes have left many families struggling to get by. Some said their taxes have tripled since they bought their homes and called the increases “crippling,” leaving them wondering if they can continue to live in New York.

Civic leaders also lamented the fact that rising taxes driving people out of the area are causing their property values to decrease, but the decline has not been halted the climbing taxes.

“It’s making affordable homes unaffordable,” said Bob Friedrich, president of the Glen Oaks Village co-op. “A two-bedroom co-op in my neighborhood pays more taxes than the mayor’s house. That doesn’t make sense and it needs to change.”

Avella said he has briefly begun discussing the bill with his colleagues in the Senate and hopes it will gain the support it needs. With state budget deadlines quickly approaching, he said if the bill does not pass in a timely manner, he will introduce a hostile amendment on the Senate floor, requiring senators to vote on it immediately.

Avella said his legislation is an extension of Cuomo’s bill rather than its own piece, and if the legislation were to pass, it would go into effect at the same time as Cuomo’s proposal.

“It’s about fairness,” Avella said. “If the governor really wants to do something to help us, this is the way to do it.”

Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at kdurham@cnglocal.com.

More from Around New York