Business, Civic and Community Leaders Call for Property Tax Freeze

James Whelan

A diverse group of business and property owners, civic leaders and community advocates including the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) has called on the de Blasio Administration and City Council to provide property tax relief to offset rising expenses and economic instability resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group, which also includes the NAACP New York State Conference, the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums, the Hospitality Alliance, the Hotel Association of New York City, Building Owners and Managers Association and Brooklyn and Queens Chambers of Commerce are calling on the mayor to: freeze property tax rates and assessments so that tax bills do not increase, reduce interest penalties from 18% to 3% and allow owners to pay their taxes on monthly payment plans.

“As commercial and residential rent collections continue to decline, we need responsible policies that support property owners who continue to pay property taxes that support vital government services while grappling with mortgages, maintaining payroll and covering increased building maintenance expenses,” said James Whelan, REBNY president, in a press release. “The challenges our city faces due to the coronavirus are stark but surmountable. We need thoughtful, data-driven policies, not ideological ones, that can lead our city towards a steady recovery.”

New York City property tax rates have gone up nearly 50% since de Blasio took office and are set to rise again in the midst of a severe economic and public health crisis, REBNY said. The pandemic has affected residential and commercial owners significantly as businesses remain shuttered, tenants struggle to pay their rents and costs for maintenance, emergency repairs, labor and insurance continue to rise.

“Thousands of New York families in all five boroughs call cooperatives and condominiums their homes. These everyday New Yorkers are struggling with the myriad impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including illness, job loss, maintenance challenges and other increased expenses,” said Mary Ann Rothman, executive director of the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums. “Our community of homeowners is not positioned to absorb new costs in the form of increased taxes which could force many owners, especially seniors, from their homes. Freezing the property tax at current levels will provide welcome stability and a predictable revenue stream for the city. Lowering interest on late payments to a reasonable level and implementing people-friendly payment policies are also appropriate responses for the city to adopt at this time of hardship.”