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Ortt backs GOP plan in State Senate to make tax cap permanent

Staff Reports Posted 9 January 2018 at 5:52 pm

Republicans propose freezing school property taxes for senior citizens, and eliminating those taxes for seniors in 10 years

The State Senate unveiled a plan today that would make the property tax cap permanent and also would freeze property taxes for senior citizens.

“Starting with property taxes, I’m supporting a permanent property tax cap, protecting STAR rebate checks and increasing their payouts, and freezing property taxes for seniors,” said State Sen. Rob Ortt. “It’s time we go after the embarrassing designation as one of the nation’s highest taxed states.”

The Senate’s ‘Blueprint for a Stronger New York’ would make permanent the self-imposed 2-percent cap on state spending and the 2-percent property tax cap so that billions of dollars in taxpayer savings being created by those initiatives can be cemented for the long term, according to the Senate GOP.

The 2-percent spending cap has reduced spending by $41 billion since the Republicans regained the majority in the Senate in 2011, the GOP said.

Senator Joseph Robach (R-Rochester) sponsored the legislation to keep the spending cap permanent. That would put an end to the historic pattern of “boom and bust” cycle budgeting and ensure a balanced, fiscally responsible budget this year, and every year, the Senate GOP said in a news release.

Since the property tax cap was enacted in 2011, it has reduced taxes by $23 billion in the state. Growth in property taxes skyrocketed by over 73 percent for New York school districts between 2001 and 2011 and 53 percent in counties, the Senate GOP said. The cap was created to limit the annual growth of property taxes levied by local governments and school districts to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.

Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan (R-East Northport) proposed the legislation to make the property tax cap permanent. It passed in the Senate.

The start of 2018 also means millions of taxpayers will begin to see significant savings as part of the Senate Majority’s Middle Class Income Tax Cut. Tax relief will ultimately reach $4.2 billion a year and reduce middle class tax rates by 20 percent for employees and tens of thousands of small businesses, the Senate GOP said.

The Senate Majority Conference will also advance measures to help all New Yorkers negatively impacted by Federal income tax changes that were recently approved in Washington D.C.

In 2018, 2.5 million residents will receive nearly $1 billion in property tax rebate checks – over and above the tax relief already provided by the STAR program. The Senate Majority secured the checks in 2015 and will make it a priority to prevent any diminishing or eliminating of those rebate checks in this year’s state budget.

In addition, the Senate Majority is proposing a 25-percent increase in the size of the current property tax rebate checks.

Many seniors on fixed incomes face a particularly difficult challenge affording New York’s high taxes, the Senate GOP said. To help alleviate this financial pressure and prevent older New Yorkers from being forced to move to lower-taxing states, the Senate Majority will propose a new freeze on school property taxes at current levels for seniors. In addition, the Senate will go one step further and propose completely eliminating school property taxes for seniors over the next ten years.

New York has some of the highest energy costs in the nation, and state taxes on energy impose a major expense on millions of families and seniors. To provide relief to overburdened taxpayers, the Senate Majority plan would eliminate the 2-percent Gross Receipts Tax on utility bills, resulting in $190 million in savings.

The energy tax savings would also expand upon the energy savings achieved when the onerous 18-A energy tax surcharge was phased out. Now that the surcharge has been eliminated, the Senate Majority’s Affordability plan would go even further by eliminating the base, underlying 18-A assessment tax and have the $90 million in savings come from the state’s general fund.

Each year, thousands of older New Yorkers leave their communities and move to other states because of the taxation of a large portion of retiree pension income. The Senate Majority proposes to help reverse this trend by doubling the current exemption on pension income and save seniors $275 million. This initiative, combined with the property tax reductions proposed above, would make New York more affordable for more seniors.

“As part of our ‘Blueprint for a Stronger New York,’ State Senate Republicans took an important first step today to create a more affordable state in 2018,” Ortt said. “Instead of political posturing or suing Washington, state leaders should be discussing ways to restrain spending and cut taxes. This is the only way we can help our seniors, working families, and small businesses.”

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