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News for 2015

Apr 8, 2015

Tax reformers disappointed yet again.

No passage of the much-needed Circuit Breaker, but Albany electeds pass tax breaks for yacht owners.

Audio interview

Listen at the 12 minute mark - [WNYC March 30, 2015] | Member Supported Public Television, Radio |WCNY
Robert McKeon, the Director of TREND NY and Ron Deutsch, the Executive Director of Fiscal Policy Institute, are disappointed that the budget does not include a circuit breaker for property tax relief.


Interview - McKeon & Deutsch

The property tax circuit breaker is one item not appearing in the final state budget, which is not happy news to those such as the Fiscal Policy Institute. But what is making matters worse is a sales tax exemption for boats costing more than $230,000 dollars. It also applies to purchases for private planes.

Mar 18, 2015

Tax reformers push Circuit Breaker

From Times Union

With Senate Republicans talking about a revived STAR (School Tax Relief) rebate check and Gov. Andrew Cuomo calling for a school tax circuit breaker, hat would be based on income levels, a group of property tax reformers are calling for the latter as the best way to ease the state’s enormous middle class tax burden.

Here’s a report from the Fiscal Policy Institute on the circuit breaker plan.

Feb 25, 2015

The acceptance of Circuit Breaker is at the highest levels.

Governor Re: Property Tax Relief for Middle Class Families

Building on the success of the Governor’s property tax cap and property tax freeze initiatives, the new proposal will provide significant relief to homeowners with the greatest need by creating a Real Property Tax Credit for households whose tax property tax burden exceeds six percent of their income. ... When fully phased-in, more than 1.3 million State taxpayers will receive an average credit of $950.

Here is the county by county: County Breakdown of Property tax Credit

Dutchess 36,099 $36.3 $1,005

Deutsch, McKeon Discuss Tax Code Commission - YNN

May 25, 2012

... the [Tax Reform and Fairness] commission is still not up and running. Ron Deutsch of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness and Bob MeKeon of Tax Reform Effort of Northern Dutchess would like to see the commission get to work sooner rather than later.

Full video with Liz Benjamin here

Members question Cuomo’s tax plans - Capital Confidential

May 23, 2012

The New York Times strongly editorialized its opposition to Gov. Cuomo's plan to create a school tax cap:

  • ... a group of activists, who have previously called for an income-based circuit breaker to help make property taxes more palatable, are wondering whatever became of that commission and they are questioning why the state’s sky-high property taxes weren’t mentioned in the initial plans.

    “Our problem has been we look at taxes in silos,” remarked Ron Deutsch, of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness and leader of the Omnibus Consortium, a collection of think tankers, homeowners and others who want a circuit breaker. While the initial plan for a commission mentioned income, sales and corporate taxes, he added “we would suggest that property taxes have to part of the mix.”

    When you look at it, very little has changed in New York,” added Robert McKeon, who said the middle class income tax savings that came with the millionaires tax were negligible given the high property taxes.

    Full article here

  • Reject the Tax Cap - NY Times

    May 25, 2011

    The New York Times strongly editorialized its opposition to Gov. Cuomo's plan to create a school tax cap:

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature have already adopted a state budget that drastically cuts funds to schools and local communities — cuts that were far deeper than needed to balance the budget because of Mr. Cuomo’s indefensible refusal to extend a tax surcharge on New York’s wealthiest residents. Now they want to adopt a cheap political tool — a 2 percent property tax cap — that would only further devastate communities around the state that can least afford it.

    Full editorial here

  • Unlikely Allies - New York Times

    January 23, 2011

    An analysis of census data by the Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonprofit research group in Albany, showed that in 2008 an estimated one in five New York households with incomes of $250,000 or less paid more than 10 percent of their income in property taxes; among households with incomes of $100,000 or under, that rose to more than one in four. “The problem with the property tax is that there is no limit to how much you can pay,” said Robert McKeon, 47, a cattle farmer and co-founder of the Tax Reform Effort of Northern Dutchess. He pays $10,000 a year in property taxes, more than 10 percent of his income, Mr. McKeon said.

    Full article here

    Property Tax Reform Groups respond to Cuomo State of Our State Address

    January 5, 2011

    (Albany, NY) Property Tax Reform groups, affordable housing advocates and fiscal watchdogs from across NYS called upon Governor Cuomo to champion real property tax relief not “rhetorical solutions.”  They urged Governor Cuomo to abandon his plan for a “property tax cap” that has failed in many other states and provides no relief to over-burdened tax payers.

    Full press release here

    Property Tax Reform Groups Unite!
    Say Cuomo Tax Cap is Not Property Tax “Relief”
    Urge Governor-Elect, Legislature to Support “Circuit Breaker”

    December 16, 2010

    Property Tax Reform groups, affordable housing advocates and fiscal watchdogs from across NYS called upon Governor-Elect Cuomo to champion real property tax relief in the form of circuit breaker that links property taxes to income.

    Full press release here


    Wall Street can help Main Street

    March 26, 2010

    The Omnibus Consortium -- a statewide coalition of property tax reform groups, fiscal watchdogs, education advocates and unions -- is urging members of the Senate and Assembly to provide urgently needed property tax relief.
    Wall Street should help fund this relief (property tax reform proposals can be found at www The Consortium members contend that we can no longer continue to subsidize W all Street at the present levels while we leave people on Main Street struggling with record foreclosures and high unemployment.

    The consortium members believe that there are many ways in which Wall Street can help in solving New York’s property tax and budget crisis.  For example, simply lowering the rebate level of the Stock Transfer Tax from 100% to 80% would produce revenue of $3.2 Billion, sufficient to gradually phase in a meaningful property tax circuit breaker while reducing the massive cuts to local governments and schools that are being debated in Albany and which would place additional pressure on our local taxes.

    Full press release here.

    Fact sheet here.

    Senate Leaders Poised to Advance Circuit Breaker

    Competing Legislation Mirrors our Coalition's Omnibus

    Just three weeks after Legislative leaders committed to doing something in this session on property tax reform, Senators Klein and Krueger are promoting the multi-year phasing in of the circuit breaker from our coalition's relief and reform bill - the Omnibus. Krueger's may have more political and fiscal viability as it addresses the issue of renters and the cost to the State is initially lower.

    Click here for the complete text of the bill.

    Full press release from Sen. Krueger here.

    Aid schools with fair taxes

    January 4, 2009 Op Ed by Robert McKeon

    While analysis and reactions from Gov. David Paterson's proposals continue to come in, it is clear the biggest losers may in fact be New York homeowners and working families.

    Full Op Ed piece here.


    Assembly Passes
    Circuit Breaker bill
    following TREND's press conference

    August 18, 2008

    Targeted relief
    matched with millionaire's tax

    Bill deemed a starting point for relief and fairness.

    To read the press release and see some of the news coverage click here.


    COUNTERPOINT: Circuit breaker the best

    From the TimesUnion, Sunday, July 20, 2008:

    New York has a much better option. We can reduce taxes for those who really need tax relief: seniors and lower- and middle-class earners. The Legislature should establish a property tax "circuit-breaker" formula for them and limit the total property taxes to a percentage of their household income. That will help keep our schools and communities strong, make our taxes more equitable and give tax relief to those who really need it.

    Click for entire opinion here


    Poughkeepsie Journal - Circuit Breaker tops

    Polls come and go, but the results of a recent one by Siena Research Institute are pretty impressive. They show while New York property owners are hopping mad about taxes, they don't necessarily think a cap is the best answer.
    Showing a level of sophistication and apparently paying attention to recent legislative debates, 75 percent of those polled said they would be in favor of a "circuit breaker,'' a proposal to give most homeowners a rebate if their property tax bill is more than a certain percentage of their income.

    Click for a printable doucment here


    surveySiena Poll - Circuit Breaker Tops Property Tax Cap

    July 22, 2008
    TREND's Results bring call for Siena to re-do polling

    After our organization's state-wide poll last month indicated that New Yorkers prefer an income-based circuit breaker over a tax cap, Siena university bowed to pressure to conduct a similar survey. Last month, the university released
    results that suggested New Yorkers want a property tax cap - the result of responses to a leading and vague question.

    Yesterday's poll, however, separated out for New Yorkers the two mechanisms. The conclusion is the same as our first in the state poll indicated - the majority of New Yorkers prefer the Circuit breaker. The wording of the questions relating to the different property tax relief options varies slightly, but the results are similar.

    To view the complete poll and responses click here.


    surveyPoll Says New Yorkers Prefer Circuit Breaker over Cap

    June 22, 2008

    A poll conducted and paid for by tax policy group TREND NY over the weekend shows that New Yorkers overwhelmingly support legislation that would limit a taxpayer’s total property taxes over a cap on local contributions toward school funding. The random automated phone survey polled over 500 registered voters across the state asking them if they supported a measure known as a circuit breaker; which would limit an individual’s total property taxes to a small percentage of their income. By greater than a two to one margin (272/126 ) respondents preferred an income based cap on their taxes over a cap on local school levies. When given the specific choice of a 4% school tax cap or a limit of 5% of their income for their total property tax bill, as exists in Vermont, voters favored the circuit breaker by a 5 to 1 margin, 66% to 13% with 21% undecided. Respondents indicated their primary motivation was to limit taxes and not to curb school funding by an 82% to 18% margin. “In the past, poorly worded polls that didn’t explain the different types of caps have led the public into thinking that the only way overburdened New Yorkers can be helped would be to limit school levies. “ said TREND Director Robert McKeon. “The truth is that a traditional tax cap will at best curb future increases, while a circuit breaker would provide immediate relief to many taxpayers and insure New Yorkers against unreasonable levels in the future. Taxpayers want a more equitable system of taxation, not just controlled spending. A circuit breaker could accomplish that. “ McKeon added that the survey results confirm the testimony given to the Governor’s Commission during the course of the many hearings. “There was almost unanimous support for circuit breaker and very few calling on them to propose a cap. That’s why it was disappointing to see that they would prioritize something that would not protect individuals, many of whom are overburdened.”

    To view the complete results click here.
    To take the poll click here.


    Valley View: School budget reform on shaky legs

    By Robert McKeon • June 8, 2008

    A highly anticipated report by the Governor's Property Tax Relief Commission has been released for all to consume. Elements of the 112-page document could lift our spirits but may also produce a delayed hangover.
    To read the complete Valley View opinion, click here.


    NY Times Joins our call for Circuit Breaker

    Paper Deems Cap an Election Year Gimmick

    Following our op-ed submissions, today's NY Times Editorial Page calls the Circuit Breaker "The best part of the Suozzi proposal". It asks the Governor to look at the whole picture and not to support a cap. "It will do more damage than good." the paper goes onto say.
    To read the complete editorial, click here.


    Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand

    Gillibrand Joins Our Call for Albany to Enact Circuit Breaker

    Congresswoman's Letter to Commission Chairman Suozzi echoes the sentiment to approve interim solution.

    Back on January 17th of this year, immediately following then Governor Spitzer's creation of the Property Tax Relief Commission, we were first to respond his call for enacting a cap ("Lawmakers Off-Key in Property Tax Reform Chorus") by stating that instead NY should pass circuit breaker legislation - "capping" the amount any taxpayer needs to pay to a portion of their income.

    Four months of touring and educating throughout New York have led to wide support for this measure. Last week, Congresswoman Gillibrand joined the effort with this letter to the Governor and Commission. In it she says that "this would protect working class families, seniors on a fixed income, and farmers from bearing an unsustained burden."

    Gillibrand calls on the Governor to review the current system for a complete overhaul. "The current system is pitting taxpayers ....against our schoolchildren, and this is not a constructive dynamic."

    To read a complete copy of the letter click here.

    With just 10 days left to the Commission's recommendation, they'll need to hear from you. Use the link above for your direct connection to their staff.




    Presentation to the Governor's Property Tax Commissionpresentation to the Governor on tax reform


    TREND DIrector, Robert McKeon, was asked to present at the Governor's Property Tax Commission in Albany. 

    Tom Suozzi
    To view the presentation click here.

    News on the Commission: Albany should take another stab at the numbers notes "the Commission on Property Tax Relief, which is working on a report for May 22. At the moment, the commission, led by Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, is considering a so-called circuit breaker that would relieve the burden on lower-income homeowners. It should also address spiraling school spending. Lawmakers should give the commission's ultimate recommendations careful consideration."


    Letter of thanks from Suozzi here.




    Presentations from Conference 2008

    On March 18, 2008,
    the Hudson Valley enjoyed an evening
    of tax reform presentations. mckeon

    The presentations can be downloaded here (in PDF format).

    PRESENTER: Frank Mauro

    PRESENTER: Robert McKeon

    PRESENTER: John Whiteley







    Putnam County Legislature to Vote to Support Bill to Overhaul Funding of Schools


    On Tuesday, March 18, the Putnam County legislature is expected to pass a resolution supporting Assemblyman Cahill's Equity in Education Act - bill A04746. The legislation would provide for replacing the property tax for funding the basic costs of a quality education with a graduated income tax phased-in over a five year period.

    The impact of the bill would likely result in the transfer of some of the tax burden from the lower 96% of New Yorkers to the top 3-4% of income earners.


    Makes provisions for the state to assume all costs of basic quality education and for the elimination of real property taxes for the support of education; requires board of regents to establish a schedule of mandatory basic services and costs thereof; school districts shall submit an annual basic budget to the department of education for basic services; increases taxes on personal income and business; makes special provisions for reduction of tax in certain cities and for reduction in rent by tenants in such cities; provides for phased in methods of funding using a "Basic Quality Education" formula; repeals certain provisions of the tax law and real property tax relating thereto.

    PURPOSE: The purpose of this plan is to permit the financing of public schools in New York State within the context of the following objectives:

    1) the elimination of the inequitable and regressive real estate tax as the support of public schools;

    2) the retention of present levels of local control by school districts; and

    3) the guarantee of quality and equality of educational opportunity for all children of the state.

    Read the outline of the bill here.
    Or the entire text here




    Property Tax Reform Conference 2008

    "Changing the Property Tax System in New York"

    Due to limited available space, the event is by invitation only.
    If you received a notice in the mail with your name, then a space is being held for you and you do NOT need to confirm.
    E-mail for more information.

    The Governor has formed a seven member property tax commission to draft recommendations, including a cap proposal by May 15th of this year.  If passed into law, a tax cap could have major impacts on municipal, school district and taxpayer budgets.

    This educational event will discuss the experience of other states that have enacted caps; potential benefits and drawbacks, as well as other tax relief and reform alternatives under consideration. The evening’s objective is to provide decision-makers with the up-to-date information they require regarding this important policy matter.

    Conference details here.


    Lawmakers Off-Key in Property Tax Reform Chorus

    Valley Views: Property tax cap wouldn't be much help

    by Robert McKeon, Thursday, January 17, 2008

    A choir of elected officials from all branches of state government have begun harmonizing a tune in the property tax reform movement - and it's not one we will enjoy if it gets produced.

    ... No coincidence that the governor referred to the cap as a "blunt instrument." With overrides requiring a two-thirds voter referendum, only the wealthiest districts will thrive, further dividing New Yorkers by economic class. Studies confirmed alarming disparity in educational results according to the community's ability to override, and it is incredibly difficult to turn around a school district once it goes downhill.

    Entire article here.


    Lawmakers Propose to
    "Put a Lid On it"

    By Robert McKeon - October 15, 2007

    Legislation to Cap Property Taxes by Income

    As the march to overhaul the funding of our schools continues, some representatives in Albany have put forth temporary stop-gap legislation to cap the amounts we pay in property taxes by income.

    The bills (A5380 and A1575) are fairly similar, providing the bulk of relief for those at the lowest levels. The benefit of the proposals are that they don't provide for increased property tax bills for any homeowner, while at least two of them may not reduce overall taxation substantially for many New Yorkers.

    The caps would include all local, county and school taxes in the calculations. Property assessments and distribution of funding for schools are not a part of the legislation.

    Take a moment to see how they might impact you if they are enacted. A comparison of the bills follows a brief description. The two pieces of legislation are:

    A5380 Sayward

    Purpose: The bill would provide for a personal income tax credit for taxpayers whose Real Property Taxes exceed a certain percentage of their household gross income. Complete bill info here.

    If the Household Gross income is   then the Cap on Real Property Taxes would be:
      $50,000 or less    3% of household gross income
     50,000 - 100,000      5% of household gross income
     100,000-150,000    6% of household gross income
     150,000-200,000     7% of household gross income
     200,000 +        No limit

    ( Galef) & S1053 (Little)

    Purpose: Establishes a personal income tax credit for a portion of a taxpayer`s residential real property taxes which exceeds a certain percentage of the taxpayer`s household gross income; provides that the taxpayer shall have resided in such residential real property for not less than 10 years; provides that such credit shall not apply to taxpayers whose household gross income exceeds $200,000 or who have received the school tax relief exemption on such real property. Complete bill info here.

    Household Gross Income    Maximum Real Property Tax
    $100,000 or less    6% of gross income
     $100,000 - 150,000     7% of household gross income
    $150,000 - 200,000      8% of household gross income
     More than 200,000    no limit


    Impact on You

    See in the chart below how the bills compare and may impact you.

    If your income is: A5380 A1575 / S1053
    $20,000 $600    (3%)  1200 (6%)+ 30% of the difference Between total tax bill and cap
    $30,000 $900    (3%)  $1800 (6%) +30%
    $40,000  $1200     (3%) $2400 (6%) +30%
    $50,000  $1500     (3%)  $3000 (6%) +30%
    $60,000 $3000     (5%)  $3600 (6%) +30%
    $70,000 $3500     (5%)  $4200 (6%) +30%
    $80,000 $4000     (5%)  $4800 (6%) +30%
    $90,000 $4500      (5%) $5400 (6%) +30%
    $100,000  $5000       (5%) $6000 (6%) +30%
    $120,000 $7200       (6%) $8400 (7%) +30%
    $140,000 $8400    (6%) $9800 (7%) +30%
    $160,000 $11,200   (7%) $10,800 (8%) +30%
    $180,000 $12,600  (7%) $14,400  (8%) +30%
    $200,000 $14,000    (7%) $16,000 (8%) +30%



    Here are few examples of how they impact some homeowners:

    Example A Current Total property taxes are: $5200, Income $55,000
     Under A5380  Under A1575 / S1053
    Property Tax Cap - $2750 Property Tax Cap $3870
    Homeowner Saves $2450 Homeowner Saves $1330


    Example B Current Total property taxes are: $8700, Income $112,000
     Under A5380  Under A1575 / S1053
    Property Tax Cap - $6720 Property Tax Cap $8000
    Homeowner Saves $1980 Homeowner Saves $700


    Example C Current Total property taxes are: $3900, Income $37,000
     Under A5380  Under A1575 / S1053
    Property Tax Cap - $1100 Property Tax Cap $2710
    Homeowner Saves $2800 Homeowner Saves $1190

    Clearly A5380 would require Albany to raise more additional funds than the other alternatives. A1575/ S1053 would do little for those who incomes exceed $100,000 and may not gain traction without broader support.

    Look for more pieces of legislation in the coming session in Albany that will propose to put a lid on it.


    Regional News from PropertyTaxReformNOW

    By Carole Kraus - October 16, 2007

    Press Release

    "Despite repeated calls by New Yorkers for true reform, state officials have failed to change our method of funding schools from the current reliance on property taxes to a statewide system that reflects a person's ability to pay," said Carole Kraus, convener of the first summit of New York State property tax reform advocates. Groups from across the state met in Albany on September 29, 2007 to plan a united push for change in New York's current property tax system. Entire press release here.


    Previous Events

    September 7, 2006 – Assemblyman Cahill provided information on his current reform efforts, bill A8069. This bill calls for the elimination of real property taxes for the support of education. It calls for the state to assume all costs of basic quality education. School districts would submit an annual basic budget to the department of education.

    August 28, 2006 – Assemblyman Joel Miller spoke on legislation bill A8598 at the Town Hall in Clinton Corners

    August 21, 2006 –  State Assemblyman Patrick Manning presented his bill to a crowd at the American Legion Hall in the town of North East. Tax reform legislation bill A8590A, sponsored by Manning was described. This reform calls for income-funding of schools based on a county-by-county resolution.

    August, 2006– We had a very educational presentation by Frank Mauro of the Fiscal Policy Institute. The Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI) is a nonpartisan research and education organization that focuses on the broad range of tax, budget, economic and related public policy issues that affect the quality of life and the economic well-being of New York State residents. Founded in 1991, FPI's work is intended to further the development and implementation of public policies that create a strong economy in which prosperity is broadly shared by all New Yorkers.


    We enjoyed having Doug Adams, chair of the Hudson Valley Property Tax Reform Task Force, visit and present at the Red Hook Town Hall. Doug conveyed a great deal of information in his presentation last week, both with his slides and the extended Q&A afterwards. Much off the root causes of property tax increases were attributed to (surprise!) pensions and Medicaid. This makes the problem of tax reform more than simply moving the revenue stream from one spigot to another. It becomes important to control or plan better for those two costs. TOP


    You can begin reading and commenting on our weekly blog writing. What is good about a blog is it functions as an online diary or opinion page. This way we can easily generate original material. Original writing makes the TREND website valuable to both local and statewide readers. And the blog allows a mechanism for readers to comment and be involved. TOP


    Our Mission

    The Tax Reform Effort of Northern Dutchess (TREND) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit advocacy group, educating and organizing on issues surrounding property tax relief efforts at the local, county, state and federal levels. These issues affect the quality of life and the economic well-being of residents of the Northern Dutchess County region. Founded in 2006, TREND's work is intended to further the education of citizens and implementation of public policies that create a fair tax system in which education funding and property ownership are partnered forces cooperating for a strong New York State. TOP

    Telling it like it is

    The states with the highest local property taxes per capita/year are: New Jersey ($1871), Connecticut ($1733), New York ($1402), and Rhode Island ($1369) more... TOP

    Rates The states with the highest local property taxes per capita/year are: New Jersey ($1871), Connecticut ($1733), New York ($1402), and Rhode Island ($1369) more...

    Freedom Let's cut the income tax rate that most New York families pay, and grant even greater financial freedom to families all across New York State. more...

    Working Class Life Michael Zweig, an economist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook who directs the Center for Study of Working Class Life, defines class based more...

    Fair Play Pay-to-Play Repealed: Virginia legislature ensures fair and efficient tax appeals. (08/04/2003) In Virginia, taxpayers no longer have the cough up the cash more...

    Our Land The Farm Preservation Act would provide real property tax relief for New York's farmers costing the State $20 million in fiscal year 1998-99, $34 million in more...

    Our Youth Overdependence on property taxes is hurting our schools and our homeowners and renters. New York State ranks 34th in the nation when you look at the more ...

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