Protecting the Property Tax Cap

Overview and backgrounder

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New Yorkers are saving billions of dollars a year thanks to the historic 2011 state law capping annual growth in local government and school property tax levies.

However, the long-term fate of this crucial tax limitation will hang in the balance during the 2019 session of the state Legislature. That’s because the provision creating the tax cap is attached to the decades-old “emergency” law regulating rents in New York City, which is next due to expire in June 15, 2019. If the rent law is not extended, the cap expires a year later, in mid-2020.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has pledged to push for enactment of a permanent, stand-alone tax cap. So has Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the leader of the state Senate’s new Democratic majority. However, the cap has not been embraced by Speaker Carl Heastie, leader of the Democratic supermajority in the state Assembly.

Since its enactment, the cap has weathered near-constant criticism from representatives of government employee unions, municipal governments and school districts, who portray it as improperly hindering their ability to raise taxes. Their (so far) unsuccessful efforts to undermine the cap have ranged from lawsuits challenging its constitutionality, to legislation creating loopholes under which taxes could be increased, to proposals that would eliminate the 60 percent supermajority requirement for overrides of the cap by school district voters and municipal governing boards.

For a comprehensive explanation of how the law works, download the Empire Center’s Citizens Guide to the Tax Cap.

Here is the complete statutory tax cap language.

Background information and tax cap implementation data from the Department of Taxation and Finance is available here.

The Office of the State Comptroller offers links to further information on the property tax cap on this page.

Recent analysis and commentary by the Empire Center: