Senior citizens across Queens living on a fixed income stand to receive some relief from their property taxes and other outstanding debts through legislation that the City Council passed last week.
The legislation — introduced by Councilman Daniel Dromm, who chairs on the Council’s Finance Committee — establishes three new types of payment agreement plans to homeowners who earn less than $58,400 so they can afford the property taxes and avoid being included in a lien sale. The proposal will be available to owners of one- to three-family homes and condominiums, where such a home is their primary residence.
Nearly 17,000 Queens residents currently enrolled in the Senior Citizen Homeowner Exemption, which cuts property taxes by up to 50 percent, could benefit from the new bill.
“Thousands of low-income homeowners struggling to make ends meet will be able to keep their homes thanks to my legislation,” Dromm said. “This effort recognizes that many New Yorkers fall on hard times and need a helping hand; that includes our homeowners. When enacted, this legislation will provide homeowners who are unable to pay their property taxes with affordable payment plans, including for the first time the option to defer payment in several cases, most notably seniors.”
In Fiscal Year 2018, almost one in every two homeowners who entered into payment plans couldn’t afford to keep up with them, putting them at greater risk for inclusion in the lien sale. These new flexible and affordable payment plans were needed to address that issue. This is the first property tax deferral and/or income-based payment plan program created by the city.
Existing plans do not account for ability to pay. One of the payment agreement plans would give low-income seniors the option to defer some or all of their property tax payments until the property is sold or otherwise transferred, at which point the city would be paid the taxes is is owed from the proceeds of the sale.
“As property taxes and the cost of living continue to increase in New York, many senior and low-income homeowners struggle to make ends meet, and at times have to choose between paying property taxes, putting food on the table or buying medicine and healthcare,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said. “These New Yorkers face difficulties to pay their property taxes and it makes it harder for them to remain in their homes and in their communities. Affordability is one of the biggest issues we are facing as a city, and this bill will help New Yorkers stay in their homes and stay in their communities. This creative program will assist homeowners to come out with a payment plan to ensure they don’t lose the home they worked so hard for.”