Assembly OKs senior tax break extension

Assembly OKs senior tax break extension
The New York State Capitol is seen in Albany. (Photo by Matt H. Wade via Wikimedia Commons)

The state Assembly unanimously approved a bill Monday that would extend a recently expired tax break for Nassau County seniors until 2029.

Sponsored by Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead), the bill would restore an additional property tax discount for Nassau seniors who make less than $86,000 a year and apply it to their most recent tax bills.

The discount expired at the end of 2016 without any notice from county officials, causing tax bills to rise for some 35,000 seniors who make less than $86,000 a year.

“With property taxes being such a financial burden on our residents, every bit helps,” said Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square), who co-sponsored the bill with Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont), Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso (D-Port Washington), Assemblywoman Melissa Miller (R-Atlantic Beach) and Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove).

The state Senate on Jan. 23 approved a similar but separate bill, sponsored by Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill), that would extend indefinitely the discount for Nassau residents 65 and older who already qualify for the state’s School Tax Relief Program.

The two chambers will now try to negotiate the two bills into one to deliver to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo for signing, Newsday reported.

The state Legislature first authorized the tax break in 2002 after then-County Executive Tom Suozzi, a Democrat, imposed a 19.3 percent property tax increase. The original bill scheduled the discount to expire at the end of last year.

Republican County Executive Edward Mangano did not tell affected residents the discount was ending, prompting some to ask their state legislators why their tax bills had risen, in some cases by more than $200.

The county Legislature authorized the extension last month with a “home rule message,” which is required for state bills that affect specific municipalities.

County officials have said they want to offer refunds to affected seniors, but it is uncertain how the county would pay for them.

“The Office of Management and Budget will work with the Legislature and” the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the county’s state-appointed financial control board, “to secure the necessary funds,” Brian Nevin, Mangano’s spokesman, wrote in an email.

The discount’s expiration prompted a tiff among Lavine, county Comptroller George Maragos — both Democrats running for county executive — and Mangano, who argued his administration’s efforts to keep taxes low required no abatement.

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