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For Release — August 5, 2010

Business Council calls on assembly to act on property tax cap

ALBANY— “The State Senate's vote Tuesday night to establish a property tax cap is welcome news to all New Yorkers,” said Kenneth Adams, president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State. “In backing Governor Paterson's property tax cap proposal, the Senate has sided with an overwhelming number of New Yorkers who are crying out for property tax relief. It is a welcome and timely decision.”

The concept of setting a cap to limit the annual growth of property taxes in New York has extensive support – 76% of all respondents including 83% of homeowners in a recent Siena poll expressed their support for a property tax cap. Upstate and suburban middle-class homeowners make up the largest group of supporters.

New York ranks among the top three states in the US for highest property taxes. Property taxes in New York are 59 percent above the national average. When property taxes are measured as a percentage of home value, 15 of the 25 highest taxed counties in the US are in New York State.

“Governor Paterson deserves credit for advancing this proposal and using the bully pulpit of his office to forcefully advocate for it. Now that the State Senate has joined him, the fate of this vital reform is left to the Assembly majority,” continued Adams. “The Assembly majority should respond to the pleas of homeowners across the state and support this proposal.”

The property tax is by far the largest non-federal tax paid by New Yorkers. In 2009 local governments collected a stunning $46 billion in property taxes from business and homeowners; $16 billion of that was collected in New York City alone. “Many New York City residents are renters, so they don't feel the bite of the property tax directly,” continued Adams. “But look again folks – it's in your rent.” 

Governor Paterson's proposal would cap annual increases in local property taxes at 4% or 120% of the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has proposed setting a 2% cap. Rick Lazio has also proposed a tax cap.

“Ultimately, we need a more aggressive property tax cap like the one proposed by Attorney General Cuomo, but the current measure is a good first step,” added Adams. “So-called ‘circuit breakers' or increased school-aid from Albany are not workable solutions. They're expensive band-aids. A hard cap on all types of property taxes along with mandate relief for local schools and governments are essential to reducing the tax burden in New York, slowing upstate population losses, and putting the state on a path to economic recovery.”