Property Taxes

New York State’s Property Tax Cap

November 30, 2011 A Citizens Guide”

Complete report in PDF format

New York State has a new law capping annual increases in local government and school district property taxes. Effective in local fiscal years starting on or after Jan. 1, 2012, the law limits the annual growth of property taxes levied by local governments and school districts to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.
The cap applies to all counties, cities, towns and villages outside New York City, and to all fiscally independent school districts. It also applies to the property tax levies of special districts established to finance fire departments, libraries, sewer and water systems and other purposes. 
This booklet lays out the basics of the tax cap and answers some common questions about how the cap will work. It concludes with a full text of the tax cap provisions passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo in June 2011.
Several important aspects of the new tax cap law may need to be clarified for many New Yorkers.  For example: 
  • The cap is not absolute. School budgets can exceed the cap if approved by at least 60 percent of school district voters. Tax caps for counties, cities, towns, villages and special districts can be overridden by a vote of at least 60 percent of the local governing bodies.
  • The annual cap in your community will seldom be exactly two percent. It could be lower if the rate of inflation has been below two percent, which was the case in several recent years. However, as explained in the following pages, the law also includes several exceptions and allowances that can make the cap higher. These factors will vary from year to year and will differ in each taxing jurisdiction.
  • A simple majority of voters will now have the power to block any tax increase in independent school districts. Districts that fail to win voter approval for their proposed budgets after two tries must freeze their property tax levies. 

Governor’s Office Expected to Issue Property Tax Cap Guidance to Counties


State Programs Funded by Property Taxes (DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE)

This report represents NYSAC’s continuing efforts to raise awareness of the systemic inequity of the State’s public service delivery system that relies on property taxpayers to fund State programs, services and policy decisions. read more…

Government Affairs Albany Update
October 21, 2011

Municipal Mandates

There is little doubt that there is a direct connection between historic mandates upon municipalities and the local property tax levy. If municipalities are to live below the newly enacted property tax cap they are going to need statutory relief from some of the historic municipal mandates.

The Business Council of the State of New York is working with a coalition of associations, regional interests, and municipal associations to identify a list of mandates that together we will advocate for statutory relief. In the coming month an official announcement will be made. The coalition has identified a number of statutory changes, including amendments to the State’s construction and civil service laws. There once was a time in New York’s not so distant past that mandates and cost shift were the norm, it is time that as a cohesive voice we oppose additional mandates while we look to redress the current costly directives.

Additionally, on other fronts the TBC is working diligently to address the identified mandates upon business of the State.


Study reveals 22 out of 25 highest taxed U.S. counties are located in New York State, April 2011

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In the past two years, the New York State Legislature has approved over $8 billion in new taxes and fees, failed to control state spending, and increased regulatory burdens, all while the state continues to experience significant job losses. Recently, the Legislature broke away from Albany without approving a balanced State Budget or any significant pro-business legislation.


November 8, 2011

How to compare property taxes in New York

E.J. McMahon

Property tax burdens in New York’s counties, based on U.S. Census data crunched by the Tax Foundation, are presented in an online map widget unveiled yesterday as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new “CitizenConnects” program.

But the Tax Foundation’s countywide data, which reflect the tax on a median-priced home, aren’t actually very useful in comparing property tax burdens in different communities. Taxes within counties can differ significantly from one town or city to the next, even within the same town. That’s mainly because school taxes dominate the tax levy, and school districts cross town lines. One town may be divided into portions of two or three — or even a half dozen or more — school districts. In addition to county, town and school taxes, property owners also may pay taxes to one or more special districts that exist to fund libraries, fire protection and other special purposes. Each is subject to Cuomo’s new cap on property tax levies.

The best tool for drilling down and comparing property tax burdens at the local level in New York is BenchmarkingNY at the Empire Center’s SeeThroughNY transparency website, which is based on state comptroller’s “equalized” property tax levy data. The drop-down toggle buttons in BenchmarkingNY’s “Property Tax by Location” feature can be used to generate comparisons of the property tax burden in thousands of different slices of communities across the state. Users have the option of scrutinizing effective rates alone, or of having the tool calculate taxes on a particular property value. The results box also can be expanded to show the breakdown of how each different tax rate contributes to the whole.

Say, for example, you want to compare taxes in the the neighboring Albany County towns of Bethlehem and Colonie. Bethlehem contains portions of three school districts, and Colonie contains all or part of six. So say, further, that you want to compare the portion of Bethlehem located in the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk (RCS) School District with the portion of Colonie located in the North Colonie School District. Assuming the same countywide median home-price estimated in the Tax Foundation data ($206,400), BenchmarkingNY produces this comparative result:

Output from BenchmarkingNY’s “Property Taxes by Location” tool

Our comparison tool indicates the tax on the median-priced house is a whopping $818 higher in the RCS School District in Bethlehem than it would be on a house of the same value in the North Colonie School District in the town of Colonie. Why do the Bethlehem residents pay a 19 percent tax premium, compared to nearby Colonie? The breakdown of taxes by jurisdiction provides the answer: it’s due almost entirely to the higher tax rate in the RCS school district.

Note that taxes in both communities in this comparison are considerably higher than the $3,334 countywide median suggested by the Tax Foundation data, which is based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey and not on hard tax levy or collection data.

While it permits more detailed comparisons, BenchmarkingNY isn’t perfect, of course. As we point out in our data note:

The effective property tax rates presented in these databases are approximate, based on estimates by the Office of the State Comptroller. The effective rates are most accurate as a comparative overall measure of tax burdens as a share of property values in different New York communities. However, because local property assessment procedures vary widely, the estimated tax levels for sample property values produced by our “Property Tax by Location” tool will not always match actual tax bills for properties of the same value in those communities. This is particularly true of localities whose assessments are significantly out of date, or which have an unofficial practice of over-assessing commercial property. In a few dozen cities and towns that have established preferential tax rates for owner-occupied homes – including Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Rochester – the local effective rate presented here is an average of “homestead” and “non-homestead” tax rates. In addition, estimated property tax bills do not reflect the impact of the state “STAR” tax break, which typically reduces the school district portion of property tax bills by 10-20 percent, or by more than 30 percent for qualified seniors.

As property taxes receive the more intensive scrutiny they deserve, we will keep working to make BenchmarkingNY even better and more useful to taxpayers across New York.

Filed under: Property taxesproperty tax cap

IconWritten by Sonia Lindell on August 30, 2011 – 7:38 am

An editorial in The Observer-Dispatch (Utica) states:

“The 2 percent property tax cap mandated by state law has local government officials squirming as budget season draws near — and rightfully so. There are even rumblings that Oneida County lawmakers might simply dance around the cap by mustering the 60 percent vote necessary to override it.

We’d strongly encourage them not to do that, and so should you.

Yes, we’re aware that state mandates have local governments handcuffed. But property taxpayers are handcuffed, too. Local government leaders argue that unless the state lightens its burden on them, they’ll be hard-pressed to craft reasonable budgets without cutting people, programs and services and/or raiding fund balances that already are bottoming out.

Most families across the state face a similar problem. Paychecks have been frozen — or lost entirely, while bills – often higher – continue to arrive. That has forced citizens to make the real tough decisions. Government leaders must do the same.”

To read the entire editorial click here.


UPAC: Central To Our Vision

  • Reducing Taxes, Fees and Assessments, which make New York’s income taxes an appalling 22% higher than the national average. Local property taxes are 55% higher, while local sales taxes are twice the national average.

July 26, 2011

NY’s property tax admin rated worst in US

E.J. McMahon

As if it wasn’t bad enough that New York imposes some of the nation’s highest property taxes, the Empire State’s patchwork system of local property tax administration is rated the nation’s worst in a new scorecard compiled by a corporate-sponsored tax organization.

The Council on State Taxation (COST) assigned New York an overall grade of “F” based on an analysis of three criteria described as follows:

  • A fair property tax system must have standardized filing, remittance and appeal procedures throughout the state;
  • The appeal process for property tax disputes must be before an independent tribunal, in a de novo hearing, without a pay-to-play requirement for disputed property taxes; and
  • The property tax burden must be balanced and uniform and not shifted onto business taxpayers.


New York’s State and Local Tax Burden Second-Highest in NationDuring the past three decades, New York’s state and local tax burden percentage has ranked among the nation’s highest, currently estimated at 12.1% of income (2nd nationally), above the current national average of 9.8%. Compared to the 1977 data, New York had a rate of 13.2% (1st nationally), decreasing 1.1% overall. Currently residents pay $6,157 per capita in state and local taxes.

NYSAC: The County 9 for 90 Campaign

Recognizing that 9 State mandates consume 90 percent of the county property tax levy statewide, NYSAC began the 9 for 90 Campaign to communicate the challenges counties face in addressing a property tax crisis that stems from decisions made in the State Capitol, not the county courthouse.

Reform Mandates, Reduce Costs

Click here to read the Executive Summary from the 9 for 90 Report.

Below are links to the ideas for mandate reform and relief submitted by county officials from across New York State. Click on the links below to see specific ideas, which are organized according to which State mandate they apply to.

231 and counting. That’s how many mandate relief ideas have been submitted to Governor Cuomo’s Mandate Relief Team through the report: “Reforming Mandates, Reducing Costs.” The report is organized according to the most costly mandates that are funded by county property taxpayers.

“Counties don’t set the property tax levy, the State does. Each and every time State lawmakers require counties to deliver a new program or shift more of the cost of an existing program, they raise property taxes,” said Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, president of the New York State County Executives Association, a NYSAC affiliate that helped submit and compile the ideas for the report. County Executive Brooks is a member of the Governor’s Mandate Relief Team.

A Draft Primer on the Property Tax Cap

NYSAC has updated our primer on key provisions of the State’s Property Tax Cap to accomodate the latest information that we have from State agencies as well as new questions from county leaders.

read more… 

The County Medicaid Reform and Property Tax Reduction Act of 2011

This Act proposes a multi-year plan for the State to remove property taxpayers from the State’s Medicaid program. The plan uses savings from the 2011-12 State Budget and provisions of the Federal Affordable Care Act to relieve county property taxpayers from funding the State’s Medicaid program.

read more…

Counties Submit Mandate Relief Ideas

231 and counting. That’s how many mandate relief ideas that are being submitted by county officials to the Governor’s Mandate Relief Team.

Click here for a copy of the Report…

read more…

 clockMandate Reform Must Precede Property Tax Relief

A top priority among the dozens of resolutions adopted by county delegates at the NYSAC Fall Seminar is one urging New York State to cut the unfunded mandates before they impose a cap on county property taxes.

read more…


Counties Call For Property Tax Relief

In a new report to Governor Elect Cuomo, county leaders present a series of reforms that would have a direct corresponding reduction in county property taxes.

read more…

reforming government

How High is Your Community’s Property Taxes?

From Governor Cuomo:

New York property taxes are out of control. The median U.S. property tax paid is $1,917 and in New York it is $3,755—96 percent higher than the national median. Moreover, New York has the highest local taxes in America as a percentage of personal income—79 percent above the national average. Below is a map that ranks where your county stands relative to the rest of the country in property taxes. Place your cursor over your county to see where it ranks.

Click here to visit map

[ for more (this site) see the Governors office contact page ]