Ramos Expands Tax Relief Eligibility for Seniors

June 27, 2003
It is vital to keep housing affordable in Suffolk County. Seniors living on fixed incomes can be forced out of their homes when the burden of increasing property taxes challenges their finances. Seniors should not be forced to choose between living in their own neighborhood or selling their homes and moving due to skyrocketing school and property taxes.

That is why I sponsored legislation to help relieve Suffolk County seniors from the financial uncertainty of increasing school and property taxes. The legislation I sponsored in the Assembly would increase income eligibility for the “Over 65” property tax exemption (A.8930-A). The Assembly also passed a measure that would increase the real property tax exemption for people with disabilities to $24,000 (A.2439-A). Both measures have passed the Senate, and the governor should swiftly sign them into law.

For eligible seniors, these bills would mean a 50 percent property tax exemption from municipal and school district taxes. My legislation would allow local municipalities to increase the maximum income level up to $24,000, from $21,500, bringing this much-needed relief to even more seniors. Coupled with the Assembly’s exemption for people with disabilities, the measures would keep communities strong by helping keep seniors and the disabled in their homes.

Each year, cost-of-living increases in their pensions and social security benefits threaten many seniors’ “Over 65” tax exemption eligibility. By allowing municipalities to raise the income minimum and adopt a "sliding-scale" option, my legislation protects many seniors from the sudden spike in school taxes that could wreak havoc on their finances.

For example, in a community that has adopted the $24,000 income maximum and chosen the “sliding scale” option, an eligible resident whose income is more than $24,000 but less than $25,000, would still be entitled to a 45 percent exemption, and those making the maximum income level of up to $32,400 would be eligible for a 5 percent exemption.

The “Over 65” exemption is a great way for New Yorkers to save money. And along with the Assembly’s Enhanced School Tax Relief (STAR) program, seniors can get the savings they deserve. I urge the governor not to delay, and make these bills law.

For more information or to apply for the “Over 65” property tax exemption, go online to http://www.orps.state.ny.us/pamphlet/exempt/senior.htm. For the exemption for those with disabilities, go to http://www.orps.state.ny.us/pamphlet/exempt/disable.htm. You can also contact your local tax assessor’s office.