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December 1, 2003

New York's state, local governments share blame for nation's fourth-heaviest property tax burden

New York's per-capita property tax burden is more than $1,300 for every man, woman, and child in New York, the nation's fourth-heaviest property tax burden and 50 percent above average, according to the third briefing paper in The Public Policy Institute's Tax Watch '04 series.

"New York's property taxes are too high. Albany and localities are both to blame"

Some 62 percent of $27.5 billion in property taxes collected statewide in 2001 went to public schools, the paper said, citing data from the Office of the State Comptroller. Cities and counties took another 13 and 12 percent, respectively, of that total. Towns, villages, and special districts spent the rest.

State policies on Medicaid, school spending, and government employment are partly to blame. But localities share in the blame, since local practices in spending areas differ widely and produce varying costs for taxpayers, the paper noted.

"Both state and local officials must work to control local-government spending. That's the only way we'll ever reduce our heavy property-tax burden," the paper said.

The Public Policy Institute, The Business Council's research affiliate, launched the Tax Watch '04 series in November to document the effect of taxes on New York's economy, and the importance of restraining government spending as an essential first step in reducing New Yorkers' tax burden.