Low- and middle-income renters in Queens and cities across the country deserve a tax break, according to Congressman Joe Crowley.
During a press conference on Monday, Aug. 21, outside the Woodside Houses, Crowley announced the Rent Relief Act, a bill that would provide two new refundable tax credits to Americans who live in rental housing that are considered “rent-burdened.”
According to Crowley, 111 million Americans throughout the United States live in rental housing. In New York City alone, nearly two-thirds of all households are occupied by renters, which is double the national average. His bill seeks to help renters balance the needs of their families with increasingly unaffordable housing markets.
The congressman pointed out that homeowners get an annual tax deduction for mortgage interest payments, something which has made home ownership affordable for millions of Americans. Tenants, he said, deserved a similar tax benefit.
“The lack of rental affordability isn’t just hurting the working poor – it’s a serious burden on hard-working middle-class families, too,” Crowley said. “Unfortunately, the demand for rental housing continues to outpace supply, and while all signs point to higher rents in the future, wages remain stagnant. Just as the tax code has helped make home ownership more affordable, I believe Congress must provide relief to the growing number of renters who are feeling squeezed financially.”
Under the new legislation, qualified individuals who live in rental housing as their primary residence and pay more than 30 percent of their income in rent would be eligible for a refundable tax credit. The amount will be determined by the household’s annual income, the total amount spent annually on rent, and a stimulated rate of the federal government’s established fair market annual rent caps.
Additionally, individuals who live in government-subsidized rental housing could claim the value of one month’s rent as a refundable tax credit. Subsidized housing rent is typically capped at 30 percent of a person’s income, which would make rent-burdened residents ineligible for the tax credit.
“Too many lifelong residents are being pushed out of the homes they grew up in,” added Assemblyman Brian Barnwell. “We have an affordability crisis in New York and we must help people stay in their homes. Congressman Crowley’s Rent Relief Act will provide tax relief to individuals and will help ease their rent burden. No New Yorker should be forced out of their homes.”