City property taxes may be lower than those in the suburbs, but they’re notoriously unfair, especially to middle-class homeowners in places such as Queens.

You know the story, because it’s a cliché: the owner of, say, a single-family house in Howard Beach, or a condo in Lindenwood, or a co-op in Glen Oaks has to pay a far higher property tax rate, compared with his or her home’s actual value, than some high-flying financier with a pied-à-terre on Park Avenue that gets used seasonally. Or, for that matter, a veteran city politician who owns two nice homes in Park Slope.

But now that very politician, Mayor de Blasio, is mulling over a report he commissioned along with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson on how to make the system fair. The key element: basing property taxes on market value rather than assessed value.

Basing them on assessed value is one of the key reasons city property taxes have been so out of whack for so long. It’s why an $8 million brownstone facing Prospect Park has a tax bill of only $20,165 a year, according to The New York Times. Compare those numbers to the equivalent for a house here and the need for reform becomes obvious.

The commission’s report recommends revenue-neutral changes, meaning they would not generate more property taxes for the city but simply spread them out more equitably. If that’s what actually would happen, it’s a plan worth aggressively pursuing. Since it would need both city and state approval to be put into law, there will be many opportunities for analysis and public input before anything changes. The recommendations would affect an estimated 90 percent of property owners across the city.

Property tax reform is greatly needed, and this plan sounds like a solid basis to start from. Let’s not forget about it; it’s time to delve into the details and go from there.

(2) comments

stan chaz

As they always say, the devil is in the details.

First of all the idea of this proposal being revenue neutral is a sensible starting point.

However that’s deceptive, because it would not preclude separate increases in real estate taxes across the board.

Presumably the underlying goal is to foster the growth of stable & secure communities, whether they are middle-class or poorer, while ensuring that the truly wealthy pay their fair share.

All too often we have socialism for the rich, as they receive the biggest & best breaks (hey, money talks, and shouts, and demands). This, while the poorer folks begrudgingly get the crumbs of capitalism, or the back of our hand.

If the tax rate is switched to market value, what does that do to the many outer borough home owners who have seen market property values soaring around them --on paper? They may be rich on paper but struggling to stay afloat - and then we add more taxes? Really?

Protections need to be put in place that protect house rich/cash poor homeowners.

What a blanket market rate assessment might do is to drive these home owners out of the City and encourage more neighborhood-destroying gentrification & speculation to replace them. That’s not what we want or need.

The priority should be in ensuring that the truly rich & well-to-do pay their fair share on exsiting properties, and to institute genuine market rate assessment ONLY on properties that have changed hands and have been sold. This, while holding the line or reducing real estate taxes for those house rich/cash poor homeowners who want to stay put in the neighborhoods & communities where they have their roots.

We need to water those roots, instead of tearing them up or trampling on them, becasue they are what holds our city together.

(Edited by staff.)

Buster57

Well my market value has been decreasing steadily while my property taxes increase steadily. This needs fixing before I have to go on welfare!

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