With Governor Cuomo and Bob Duffy in the midst of their sales pitch tour its a good time to assess what they are selling. It’s great to see them embracing equal marriage for same-sex couples but one has to wonder how much of that is a bone to throw to the base given their conservative ideas on property taxes.
Cuomuffy are right to focus on property taxes because in many areas of the state people on fixed incomes can’t afford to stay in their homes. For decades Albany has been whittling away the amount of tax paid by corporations and the wealthy and shifting the tax burden down to counties and municipalities who collect revenue primarily through property and sales tax.
But a tax cap is a blunt tool that ties the hands of local government. Rod Driscoll’s op ed in the Times Union shows how the property tax cap could bankrupt school districts and chase jobs away.
Most New Yorkers actually prefer the circuit breaker idea.
According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities property tax circuit breakers, like the devices that shut off electric power to prevent circuits from overloading, prevent property taxes from “overloading” a family’s budget by “shutting off” property taxes once they exceed a certain share of the family’s income. Circuit breakers are property tax refunds. Circuit breakers usually set a maximum percentage of income that a qualifying household is expected to pay in property taxes before it can receive a rebate. Among the states with circuit breakers currently in place, this ranges from 1 percent to 9 percent of income, with some states varying the percentage with the family’s income level. If the household’s property tax bill exceeds this limit, the state rebates either all or a portion of tax payments made above this limit.All state circuit breakers restrict eligibility to certain income groups; that is, there is a maximum income above which the household does not qualify for circuit breaker relief.
Of course this is an idea that Albany will have to wait on until they can get over protecting their wealthy patrons and get down to the business of generating some revenue for this kind of initiative.No tag for this post.