I have read a lot about New York City’s property tax laws over the past year, and was wondering just how unnecessarily complex they were.

I found out. Geez.

In Boston, there are just two rates. A commercial rate and a residential rate. (The Fiscal Year 2006 residential tax rate is $11.12 per thousand dollars of value. The commercial, industrial and personal property rate is $30.70 per thousand dollars of value.)

You can apply for abatements, if you think your assessed value is wrong, but other than that, what you get billed for is what you pay.

(You also get the residential exemption, if your residence is owner-occupied, of course.)

There are (partial) exemptions, but those exemptions are based on who you are, more so than where you live:

Full or partial exemptions are provided in the General Laws for the following eligible persons:

* Surviving Spouse (Widow/Widower), Minor Child of a Deceased Parent, Elderly – Clause 17D

* Blind – Clause 37A

* Veterans – Wartime Service Connected Disability Clause 22

* Elderly – Clause 41C

* Hardship – Clause 18

– from the city of Boston website

Things are quite different in New York City. It’s worth a comparison, if only to see how lucky we are in Boston (or not, if you’d end up paying nothing in property taxes, which is what happens to a lot of people in New York City).

Here’s how things work in New York City:

There are four tax rates, one for single-family homes, for co-ops/condos, for commercial, and for other.

15.746% 12.396% 12.309% 11.306%

Most residential homeowners (including condos/co-ops) received a $400 rebate from the city, in both 2004 and 2005, a gift from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to offset the increase in property taxes over the past couple of years (does that seem kind of perverse, to you?).

So far, so good, right?

But, then, things spiral downward, into a complex mess, very quickly.

I don’t think anyone else cares about this, so I’ll just post it, along with my own SWEET comments, and move on.

Individual Rebate, Exemption, and Abatement Programs

Clergy Exemption
Enacted to give tax relief to members of the clergy, both active and retired. (SWEET: You don’t have to actually live in the property to get the abatement, meaning it can be an investment property.)

Cooperative and Condominium Abatement
Developed to provide partial tax relief to owners or tenant-shareholders of Class 2 condominiums or cooperatives to reduce the disparity in taxes paid by residential property owners in Class 1 and Class 2. (SWEET: 17.5% off your tax bill (and not your assessed value, I think), if you own a condo instead of a single-family home.)

Disabled Crime Victim and Good Samaritan Exemption
Designed to provide tax relief to crime victims and good Samaritans who suffer a disability as a result of a crime. (SWEET: Who can complain about this one? It only covers expenses in the cost of modifying your home for your disability.)

Disabled Homeowners’ Exemption (DHE)
Enacted to provide tax relief to disabled homeowners and their families who have limited incomes. (SWEET: Up to 50% off your assessed value, if you’re also poor.)

Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE)
The DRIE program offers qualifying renters with disabilities exemptions from rent increases. (SWEET: For renters only: If you qualify, you won’t have to pay any future rent increases.)

Property Tax Rebate
Intended to provide tax relief to individual home, cooperative or condominium owners in New York City to offset the 2003 property tax increase. (SWEET: This is the $400 rebate I mentioned, above. Available to all condo and co-op owners, for owner-occupied residences.)

School Tax Relief (STAR)
The Basic STAR program is designed to provide tax relief to all owners that use a property as their primary residence. Enhanced STAR provides a higher tax cut to owners age 65 or over who meet income eligibility requirements. (SWEET: For owner-occupied residences, a rebate of $200; people over 65 get $350. For no apparent reason except I guess taxes are high?)

Senior Citizen Homeowners’ Exemption (SCHE)
Enacted to provide property tax relief to homeowners age 65 or over who have limited incomes. (SWEET: Lowers assessed value of your property by 5-50%, if you’re old.)

Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE)
Provides landlords of rent-regulated apartments with a credit offset against their property tax for rent increases not received in apartments with tenants age 62 or over who have limited incomes. (SWEET: Seems like a nice thing to do. No complaints here.)

Veterans’ Exemption
Designed to provide tax relief to qualified veterans and their families in recognition of their service to the country and community. (SWEET: Available for all veterans during certain periods of conflict, not just those who saw combat.)

Construction Exemption / Abatement Programs

Enacted to promote construction of multi-family residential buildings with at least three dwelling units by providing a declining exemption on the new value created by the improvement. (SWEET: This is the biggie. Any newly-constructed property outside of midtown Manhattan is exempt from property taxes. Generally, buildings between 14th and 96th Streets in Manhattan are ineligible. Construction period exemption (up to 3 years) plus 10-year (2 years full + 8 years phase out), 15-year (11 years full + 4 years phase out), 20-year (12 years full + 8 years phase out), or 25-year (21 years full + 4 years phase out) post-construction exemption from the increase in real estate taxes resulting from the work.)

Developed to promote new one- and two-family housing construction by making home ownership more affordable to a larger segment of the population.

Created to encourage the conversion of non-residential buildings in Lower Manhattan to residential use.

Commercial Expansion Program (CEP)
Enacted to promote the development of commercial and industrial areas outside of Manhattan’s central business districts.

Commercial Revitalization Program (CRP)
Enacted to increase tenant occupancy in office and retail space in lower Manhattan and specified other areas of the City and encourage investment in older commercial space or conversion to residential use.

Division of Alternative Management Program (DAMP)
Developed to return City-owned residential properties to private ownership.

Industrial and Commercial Incentive Program (ICIP)
Offered to encourage industrial and commercial development in designated areas of New York City.

Enacted to encourage the rehabilitation of existing residential structures by providing tax exemptions and abatements.

Relocation and Employment Assistance Program (REAP)
Provides business tax credit incentives to encourage businesses to relocate from outside the City and from below 96th Street to above 96th Street and to other areas of the City. The program was extended in 2004, and expanded to provide REAP benefits for Lower Manhattan.

Lower Manhattan Relocation and Employment Assistance Program (LMREAP)
The REAP program was extended in 2004, and expanded to provide REAP benefits for Lower Manhattan.

Urban Development Action Area Program (UDAAP)
Designed to encourage the construction of residential housing on formerly City-owned land in designated areas.

Institutional & Governmental Exemptions / Abatement Programs

Designed to defray or eliminate property tax for properties that are used for charitable, educational, medical, or other exempt purposes.

Industrial Development Agency (IDA)
The IDA is administered by the City’s Economic Development Corporation to provide tax exempt financing to stimulate business expansion and increase employment for manufacturing, industrial and not-for-profit corporations.

Properties that are owned by the city, state, federal or foreign governments that are used for governmental purpose (i.e., maintaining offices or quarters for representatives of government) are entitled to a property tax exemption.

So, based on my analysis, if I lived in New York City, the city would end up owing me $7,521 in rebates on my $3,500 property tax bill.

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Updated: January 2018


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