Thursday, July 12, 2007

Property Tax Rebate Checks

When you weed through all your junk mail during the next few weeks, be on the lookout for a letter and application from the State of New York for a property tax rebate. Applications are scheduled to be mailed to western New York in mid to late July.

You might recall that last year, New York State property owners simply received a rebate check. This year, our state legislature, in its infinite wisdom, decided to have homeowners apply for the rebate. Reportedly, Governor Spitzer was in favor of treating the rebate as a tax reduction but lawmakers insisted that taxpayers be sent checks with politicians’ names prominently displayed. Also different from last year are income limits, with those who make less than $90,000 downstate getting the greatest benefits.

I guess I’m just not smart enough to be a lawmaker. For the life of me, I can’t understand why we don’t just reduce taxes instead of mailing an application that gets returned and processed so we can mail a rebate check. Heck, if we eliminate postage times two plus printing and processing, maybe we could even increase the savings for each taxpayer!

I have similar feelings about the NY State STAR (School Tax Relief) deduction. It is always a challenge for me to explain to families relocating to New York State that the property taxes for a home are X but if they fill out a form and submit it to their tax assessor’s office before March, they will automatically qualify for a significant reduction in the school tax bill of their primary residence, and no, they don’t need to apply every year.

Again, why not just reduce the tax? A realtor friend with many more years experience than me says, “That’s just not the New York way.”
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