Scores of homeowners seeking tax relief came to Marjory Baptist Church in St. Albans last week for state Senator Leroy Comrie’s tax exemption enrollment event with representatives from the city’s Department of Finance.
Many seniors, people with disabilities and veterans are eligible for significant tax exemptions, and over the last year, Comrie’s office has been working with hundreds of Queens’ residents to sign up for the exemptions that could save them hundreds or thousands of dollars.
“We found out from the Department of Finance that people would not pay attention to their mail,” said Comrie. “They pay attention to mail that I send directly to them … and we get a direct response from them.”
In order to reach the most people who need help with exemptions the DOF now sends representatives out of the office and goes out in the community with laptops, Comrie noted.
“People don’t have to worry about parking costs or getting towed [trying to get to the DOF office],” he said. “It’s an opportunity for people to get their bills adjusted while having a one-on-one conversation with the people from the Department of Finance in the evening without having to give up a work day.”
Andrea Scarborough of Addisleigh Park came to the Oct. 24 event looking for a reduced property tax bill for her 87-year-old mother.
“My mom had a tax issue and I needed to meet with the representatives here,” said Scarborough. “It’s too high for someone with a fixed income.”
Claudia Todman, 83, of St. Albans has been retired for 25-years and has been living off of her pension of $32,000 annually. She came to the event to have her taxes reevaluated after becoming sick over a year ago.
The retired Board of Education and Board of Election worker had a pulmonary embolism, is on blood thinners and after spending a year in a half waiting for a diagnosis, discovered that she has anemia.
“I’m not getting any younger, and I haven’t changed my information for two years,” said Todman. “I’m fully retired and I’m not that well.”
Marcel Dixon of the DOF’s outreach team was among those there to help.
“My role is going out in the community and educating them about our programs,” Dixon said. “Mainly our homeowner programs for property taxes, the STAR program for school tax credit, our senior citizen program and our disabled homeowners, along with our veterans exemption, and clergy exemption.”
Other programs for which residents received information include the rent freeze program in rent-stabilized or controlled units.
“These programs help to reduce individuals tax bill or help to freeze their rent as the increases happen over the years,” Dixon added. “The more people we can save money the better, and the more likely they are going to be able to stay in their homes.”