If you think you were due a property-tax-rebate check and didn’t get one by now, you have a place to air your grievances.

The state Department of Taxation and Finance has set up a hotline for New Yorkers to call if they didn’t get the rebate checks that started going out last fall.The checks were slow in getting to some homeowners, but the final ones went out late last month, a spokesman said.

“The last of the 2.3 million property tax freeze checks were mailed in February to provide direct tax relief to homeowners in school districts that complied with the property tax cap,” said tax department spokesman Geoffrey Gloak.

Taxpayers with questions about the program or didn’t get a check and believe they were eligible can call 518-453-8146. The line is open between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The state since mid-October had sent out the checks to homeowners in communities where school districts stayed under the property-tax cap last year. The checks were a rebate for the growth in school taxes last year.

Only 19 of nearly 700 districts exceeded the cap, so most property taxpayers received them if they met the income eligibility on their primary residence. Household income must have been $500,000 or less to be eligible.

The property-tax freeze, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo coined it, was enacted by Cuomo and the state Legislature last year as a way to limit taxes in New York, which has among the highest bills in the nation. Cuomo and lawmakers were also up for election last year.

It’s a three-year program. This fall, homeowners will receive a check for the growth in their taxes for schools and local governments, if they all stay under the cap — which limits the growth in taxes to less than 2 percent a year. In 2016, the check would just be for taxes from local governments.

The program also requires schools and local governments to develop plans to cut the tax levy — the total amount of taxes collected — by 1 percent a year for three years.

Cuomo’s office estimated the program would provide $1.5 billion in tax relief to homeowners over three years.

The initiative is among several attempts by the state to limit property taxes through rebate programs. It already spends $3.4 billion yearly on the STAR rebate program, which provides a break on school taxes.

Also, last fall, the state gave out $350 checks to residents with children under 17 as of 2012 who had household incomes between $40,000 and $300,000. That’s also a three-year program, but it will be a tax credit on filers’ income taxes — not checks — in the final two years.

As part of his budget plan Jan. 21, Cuomo proposed a $1.7 billion plan to provide property-tax credits by tying taxes to household income.

The program would be phased in over four years and provide credits to more than 1 million middle-class homeowners and more than 1 million renters.

Cuomo and the Legislature are considering the proposal as part of budget negotiations for the fiscal year that starts April 1.

E.J. McMahon, president of the Empire Center for New York State Policy, criticized the various rebate programs, saying they mask the root cause of New York’s high taxes. He said the state needs to reform laws and lessen mandated costs on local governments to drive lower taxes.

“This is what happens when the state gets involved in redistributing money in the name of property-tax relief,” he said.

Some groups, however, support Cuomo’s latest program, which is similar to a so-called circuit breaker that ties taxes to household income. But they don’t want it linked to the property-tax cap.

“Our organization believes we should not make property-tax relief conditional on factors outside the homeowner/renters control, therefore we strongly recommend that the circuit breaker not be linked to compliance with the tax cap,” said Ron Deutsch, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, a labor-backed think tank.

© 2015 Gannett News Service

You may also like

It’s never simple arithmetic with schools

Earlier this week, the Empire Center did its own report on the plummeting numbers when it comes to students. Overall, the 2019-20 enrollment is at its lowest levels in New York state in the last 30 years. Read More

School budgets: Find out how much your property taxes may increase

Schools, excluding the Big 5 districts of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Yonkers and New York City, are proposing to increase taxes by $539 million despite an enrollment drop of 7,827 students, or a 0.5% decline, the Empire Center for State Policy, a fiscally conservative think tank said. Read More

Region’s homeowners among hardest hit by taxes in state

Those findings were based on data compiled and supplied by the Empire Center for Public Policy in Albany, which gathers and adds tax rates for every county, municipality and school district to show the combined toll of school and government taxes for any place in the state, adjusted to smooth differences in assessment levels and allow comparisons. Read More

Property taxes: These places pay the most in New York

The report, released by the Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think tank in Albany, found the effective tax rate for each region of the state. Calculating tax rates can be tricky, particularly in New York, where property owners face various taxes from multiple jurisdictions, including counties, towns and cities, as well as schools. Read More

Schenectady, Niskayuna top property tax lists for Capital Region

Schenectady’s property tax rate is $48.20 per $1,000 of home value, according to the Benchmarking New York report produced by the Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think tank based in Albany. Read More

Orleans County communities had five of the 10 highest tax rates in Finger Lakes for 2018, Empire Center report says

ALBANY — Orleans County communities have five of the top 10 highest tax rates for 2018, according to the Empire Center’s annual Benchmarking NY rankings, released this week. Read More

Bellone seeks SALT end-run, critics say issue settled

Although the IRS ruling hasn’t formally been made final yet and Bellone is promising a legal fight, E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center, an anti-tax think tank, said Suffolk taxpayers should be skeptical of putting money into the proposed charitable fund. “Any contribution to something like the Suffolk County fund is by no means guaranteed a tax deduction, so the message to taxpayers is don’t count on it,” McMahon said in an email. He called Bellone’s plan “nothing new — basically a Suffolk echo of Cuomo a year ago.” Read More

New York can do far more to lower property tax burden

A recent report by the Empire Center, an Albany-based, fiscally conservative think tank, projects if the state paid for the counties’ share of Medicaid costs, it would provide $8 billion in relief to county governments. That’s an average 27 percent reduction in county taxes, the USA Today Network’s Albany bureau reports. Read More