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City Council approves Queens lawmaker’s bill extending the J-51 property tax exemption and abatement program

Documents with title tax exempt on an office table.
Photo via Getty Images

The City Council Committee on Housing and Buildings recently approved legislation sponsored by two Queens lawmakers that will extend the J-51 property tax exemption and abatement program and provide relief to property owners for renovating a residential apartment building, rental, co-op or condo, or for converting commercial structures into residential units. 

The bill, which passed the state Legislature in June and is sponsored by Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, authorized the Council to extend the exemption to June 30, 2022, so more property owners can take advantage of it. 

The measure will also apply retroactively to qualifying projects that occurred after the June 29, 2020, expiration. This tax exemption provides relief by utilizing the assessed valuation (the property tax rate is based on the assessed valuation) prior to construction. The tax abatement reduces the tax owed at that time.

Stavisky commended the Council for approving this extension before the year-end deadline. 

“The J-51 program was designed to help property owners make necessary improvements to their property. It incentivizes property owners to modernize their buildings for the health and safety of its residents,” Stavisky said. “These incentives enhance affordable housing and improve our neighborhoods.”

According to Braunstein, for years, the J-51 tax abatement has provided modest property tax relief to eligible New York City co-op owners, including many families in the outer boroughs who pay higher effective property tax rates than other homeowners. 

“The program also helps to ensure that buildings are maintained, improved and, most importantly, kept safe for residents,” Braunstein said. 

Senator John Liu said the state legislature acted this past summer to extend the exemption, and now with the Council’s action, they’re able to declare a deserving victory for co-ops in northeast Queens and beyond.

“Co-op owners are breathing a huge sigh of relief now that the City Council has passed the J-51 tax abatement. There are precious few financial incentives that preserve the affordability of our local co-op housing stock, and this reauthorization will ensure owners have the ability to make critical repairs and capital improvements to their essential infrastructure like elevators, boilers and roofing,” Liu said. 

Warren Schreiber, co-president of the Presidents Co-op and Condo Council, and Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village, said the J-51 program makes it possible for housing co-ops to maintain and improve their properties. 

“If not for this program, the entire financial burden of capital improvements would fall on the shoulders of middle-income shareholders,” Schreiber said. “New Yorkers in co-ops should not have to wonder whether they will be able to afford to make necessary changes, repairs and improvements to their homes and buildings.” 

According to Friedrich, cooperatives are operated on a not-for-profit basis and provide affordable housing for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. 

“The J-51 program is essential for working class communities in New York City like Glen Oaks Village. Without the J-51 tax benefits we would have been unable to replace 18,000 energy efficient windows,” Friedrich said. “The J-51 program helps keep our aging residential infrastructure in good shape for families to live in.”

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