Boro welcomes tax break for condos, co-ops

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A long-fought battle to secure a partial tax abatement for co-op and condominium owners was won after the state Senate and state Assembly made good on their word and passed new legislation.

Elected officials from city and state government have been urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to prevent a devastating increase in co-op and condo owners’ real property taxes after the state failed last year to extend the J-51 program despite agreements to pass a new plan.

Their calls were answered this week when the state Legislature raised tax abatements from 17.5 percent to 25 percent this year, 26.5 percent next year and 28 percent in 2015 for properties whose average assessed values were less than $50,000.

“Since my tenure in the Assembly began in 2011, I have fought to reduce the outrageously high and inequitable property tax assessments levied on many of our middle-class co-ops in the outer boroughs,” said Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside). “This is a major victory for the vast majority of co-op owners in northeast Queens, including thousands of senior citizens on fixed incomes.”

While elected officials throughout Queens applauded the abatement’s passage, they also cautioned that more work was needed to ensure that tax relief goes to the homeowners who need it most.

“Passage of the legislation is the culmination of a long, hard fight for fairness and equity,” said Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone). “While what is really needed is wholesale revision and reform of the classification system, the abatement we passed in Albany remedies the inequities. In fact, the abatement will increase for most Queens co-ops because it is based on progressive property tax assessments.”

Under the legislation, co-op and condo units with an average unit assessment value above $55,000, but less than or equal to $60,000, receive partial abatements of 20 percent, 21.2 percent and 22.5 percent over the next three years. Beyond that, all units valued at more than $60,000 receive abatements of 17.5 percent over the next three years.

The relief will go a long way for homeowners in northeast Queens, according to community leaders such as Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance and co-president of the Presidents Co-op & Condo Council, and Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich.

“Renewal of the co-op and condo property tax and J-51 abatements will allow hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to continue to enjoy affordable housing,” Schreiber said. “Without the abatements, financially struggling families may have been forced out of their homes. I want to thank the Albany lawmakers for their unwavering support of the co-op/condo community.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 9:02 pm, January 31, 2013
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