NY Bills Seek Property Tax Relief Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

By James Nani
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Law360 (April 9, 2020, 7:18 PM EDT) -- New York lawmakers have introduced several bills that would provide tax relief amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, including measures to allow deferring or suspending property tax payments and extending some tax abatement deadlines.

The three bills, introduced or amended on Wednesday, came soon after lawmakers passed a budget that pushed few new tax policies but gave the governor wide-ranging power to cut spending amid a projected $10 billion to $15 billion drop in expected tax revenue. They also come as it remains unclear when lawmakers may take up legislation again, even remotely, amid the pandemic.

A.B. 10241 was introduced Wednesday by Assembly member Alicia Hyndman, D-Queens. The bill would authorize localities to extend the application renewal and filing deadline from March 15 to June 15 for certain real property tax abatement programs. The extension would be from the date an application or renewal application is due to a municipality if the governing body of that municipality adopts a local law, ordinance or resolution allowing it, the bill said.

If passed, the bill would take effect immediately. The bill's Senate companion, S.B. 8122, was introduced in March by Sen. Leroy Comrie, D-Queens. While the original Senate bill applied the measures to just New York City, an updated version, S.B. 8122A, broadened the policy to all municipalities and made other changes.

The Assembly bill has been referred to the Committee on Real Property Taxation. The Senate bill has been referred to the state Committee on Cities. Hyndman didn't respond to requests for comment.

Also introduced on Wednesday to the Committee on Real Property Taxation was A.B. 10252, sponsored by Assembly member Steve Stern, D-Dix Hills. The bill would allow municipalities to authorize deferred scheduled or installment payments for property tax collection during a declared state of emergency, according to a bill summary. During deferment of payment, no additional interest or penalties would accrue, and once a state disaster emergency was lifted taxes would be collected in installments, the bill said.

"This legislation will ease the burden on taxpayers who are currently struggling with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic," a bill justification said.

Stern didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. A.B. 10252's companion bill in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Monica Martinez, D-Brentwood, S.B. 8138, was introduced on March 28. Martinez, in a statement to Law360, said the Senate is on a two-week recess and there hasn't been any discussion that she knew of bundling the various COVID-19-related tax relief bills.

"I know we are committed to assisting all New Yorkers get through this emotional, physical, mental and financial hardship," Martinez said.

A.B. 10245 was also introduced Wednesday and is sponsored by Assembly member Nathalia Fernandez, D-Bronx. The bill would amend New York's real property tax law to  suspend the payment of property taxes during a state disaster emergency for owners of one-, two- and three-family dwellings. It would also suspend rent, power, water and sewer payments payments during a state disaster emergency.

According to a bill justification, the legislation would temporarily suspend payment for property taxes, residential rent, small-business rent and mortgage payments for one-, two- and three-family homes. A bill justification said during emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic, many New Yorkers are displaced from their jobs and unable to make monthly payments they would otherwise make.

"Rent, property tax, mortgage payments, and utilities are among the bills that New Yorkers may find themselves unable to pay because of lost work. This should not be a reason for them to then be displaced from their homes, atop the crisis of a state emergency," the bill justification said.

Forhad Rahman, deputy chief of staff for Fernandez, said the bill is a priority for Fernandez.

"We understand how state disaster emergencies, such as this pandemic, can have a financial impact on New Yorkers. We want to provide as much economic relief as possible, for both renters and private homeowners," Rahman said.

--Additional reporting by Jaqueline McCool. Editing by Vincent Sherry.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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