Many homeowners are happy to receive a property tax rebate check in the mail. Every little bit helps, especially during the holiday shopping season. However, the sobering reality of the program is that you are getting money back to offset the costs of property taxes that are already too high. Albany shouldn’t be taking your hard-earned money in the first place.
New York State’s property taxes are egregious, and even though the state implemented a cap on future increases, homeowners are still being burdened with taxes that outpace the rest of the nation. Across-the-board tax cuts that keep money in the pockets of those who earn it are more effective ways to improve the quality of life for New Yorkers.
LOWER THE TAX BURDEN ACROSS THE BOARD
Rather than gimmicks, we need to reduce the overall tax burden for every New Yorker. I have advocated for bills that reduce taxes and relieve the financial pain we’ve felt for too long:
- SHOP NY: would eliminate taxes on gasoline, car seats, everyday hygiene products like soap, diapers and toothpaste and protective helmets required by law (A.5216-A, Kolb).
- College Supplies Tax Deduction: would make out-of-pocket college expenses for course requirements tax deductible (A.5214, Kolb).
- The Mobile Tax Freedom Act: would eliminate the state sales, compensating use and excise taxes on mobile telecommunications services, and authorize local governments to eliminate their sales and compensating use taxes on mobile telecommunications (A.9103-A, Kolb).
STAR PROGRAM BUDGET VOODOO SERVES NO ONE
The state’s STAR property tax exemption program is transitioning from a property tax rebate exemption to a state Personal Income Tax Credit. This may seem like a subtle difference, but the STAR program changed for new homeowners by providing the tax break on their state Personal Income Taxes rather than on their property tax bill. This has done little more than create confusion for new homeowners, many of whom are still trying to figure out if they qualify or how to apply.
The state simply shifted the cost of the STAR program so that the Governor’s self-imposed 2 percent cap on state spending can be maintained. Now, that’s some creative accounting that does nothing but put taxpayers at risk to cover additional state spending when they are already asked for too much. It’s time to go back to the original program.
STATE PROGRAMS REQUIRE MORE OVERSIGHT
Recently, the Comptroller’s office blocked more than 2,000 STAR Property Tax checks from being sent to deceased residents. In addition, many New Yorkers are still waiting for these checks to arrive. There are obvious flaws in the program and New York taxpayers deserve better.
I urge both the Governor and Comptroller to examine the Assembly Republicans’ proposal A.10531, which would review the current state income tax structure in the hopes of reducing taxes and stop the tax gimmicks currently plaguing our state. Further, this proposal would improve oversight of state programs, reduce waste and ensure all funding is delivered accurately and in a timely manner.
Our government is built upon the concept of “checks-and-balances,” and ensuring state spending is administered properly is no exception.