By Maylan L. Studart
Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to New Hyde Park Sunday with an entourage of Democratic state senators to urge lawmakers to make the tax cap permanent in the upcoming budget.
The property tax cap, passed in 2011 after a decade of discussion and extended for four years in 2015, is set to expire and now Cuomo says he will not sign off on the new budget unless the tax cap is made permanent.
The property tax cap limits the growth of school budgets and local property taxes to 2 percent per year, or the rate of inflation, if lower. Local governments may surpass the cap only with a vote of 60 percent or more.
Making the tax cap permanent is more important now since the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017 capped local and state deductions, also known as SALT, at $10,000, said state Sen. Anna M. Kaplan (D-Great Neck). The cap on SALT deductions hurt homeowners who often have property taxes above $15,000 in many areas downstate.
“With the federal administration declaring war on New York taxpayers by reducing the SALT deduction, it’s becoming harder and harder for Long Island families to make ends meet,” Kaplan said. “Governor Cuomo’s 2 percent tax cap has worked to slow the growth of property taxes on Long Island and help government to live within its means, and that’s why I’m standing with Governor Cuomo and my Long Island Senate majority colleagues to fight to make it permanent in the state budget.”
“The 15 highest taxed counties in the country are all here in New York State,” Cuomo said in a video message during Sunday’s event. “Orleans County is the number one in the nation for the highest property taxes, followed by Niagara, Monroe, Allegany, Wayne, Cortland, Genesee, Chautauqua and Seneca Counties. In absolute dollars, Nassau County residents pay the highest property taxes in the country.”
Several New York Democrats support Cuomo in making the tax cap permanent. They were there to say they wouldn’t vote to approve the budget if it didn’t include a permanent cap.
“Long Islanders demand tax relief and a permanent tax cap is the best way to address affordability on Long Island,” Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) said. “It is essential that a permanent tax cap be included in this year’s budget.”
“Washington’s tax plan took care of the rich, but cast the burden on states like New York and did nothing for the middle class,” Cuomo said.
Sen. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood), Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown), Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone were also present.
Cuomo launched the campaign Tax Fairness for the Middle Class last month in support of tax relief for the middle class and the trip to New Hyde Park was just one stop in the agenda to phase in his tax cut. Under the reforms the governor is requesting, middle class tax rates will drop to 5.5 percent and 6 percent when the tax cuts are completely phased in, depending on income.
According to his team, that ends up being an up to 20 percent cut in income tax rates for the middle class that is projected to result in $4.2 billion in annual savings for six million taxpayers by 2025. With the phase-in, they would be the state’s lowest middle-class tax rates in more than 70 years.