October 14, 2019
The New York property tax system has been repeatedly cited as being unfair, and Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to do something about it. Then he didn’t. The mayor still has two years left in office, but those who live in New York were told that it wasn’t realistic for him to fix problems with the property tax system in that time frame. Currently, the tax system in New York is based on overtaxing those who are already underprivileged, and under taxing those who could easily afford to pay more. Expensive condos in affluent neighborhoods get big tax breaks, for example, while rentals in lower-income areas do not.
There have been many critics of the current system. Not only have these critics spelled out what was wrong with the system, but they have produced plenty of suggestions as to how to improve it. Their information falls on deaf ears, though, as the mayor’s office hasn’t made any move to address any of the problems or the suggestions for change. Right now, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge has the fate of New York property tax reform in his hands. A lawsuit over the tax issues was brought by a coalition called Tax Equity Now New York.
The coalition comprises the civic, community, and real estate groups that are all challenging the current system. Their argument is that the current tax code discriminates racially because the taxes are higher in minority areas where the income is lower. If the judge rules in favor of Tax Equity Now, it’s possible that reform will come to the New York property tax code. But if the judge rules in favor of New York, it doesn’t seem like anything will improve soon, if at all.
Those who own commercial property in New York are left waiting, hoping that the judge will rule in a way that’s more favorable to them. While high-end developers and owners certainly enjoy the lower level of taxes they’re asked to pay, it can be a real struggle for those who own commercial property in more urban areas where incomes are lower. People in that category wait for a solution that could be a long time in coming.