ABATEMENT WILL BE ON JANUARY BILLS

by Andrew J. Hawkins (as reported in Crains, November 19, 2012)

The city will continue to honor an expired $430 million tax break for hundreds of thousands of condo and co-op owners, despite news that the state Legislature will not convene this year to renew it.

Lawmakers were expected to vote to extend the popular tax break for property owners, retroactive to its mid-2012 expiration, in a special session before January. But Superstorm Sandy and the uncertainty surrounding control of the state Senate has reportedly persuaded Gov. Andrew Cuomo to cancel his plans to convene a session, leaving many issues, including the tax abatement, dangling.

But the city’s Department of Finance said it would continue to apply the tax break to property owners’ bills, in the hope that it will eventually be retroactively renewed.

“The city will send out the bills this month as originally planned, and we expect that new legislation will be acted on early in the next legislative session,” a Finance Department spokesman said in a statement to The Insider. “The abatement will be applied.”

Spokespersons for Mr. Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and legislative leaders did not respond to a request for comment.

Condo and co-op owners have been in limbo for weeks, worried that a continued delay in Albany would send their property-tax bills soaring by as much as one-third. Property owners seeking information from the Finance Department are being directed to the agency’s website for updates. But that information is even more worrisome.

If the average assessed value of a condo or co-op is more than $15,000, taxes on the property will increase by approximately 21%, according to the Finance Department’s website. If the average is $15,000 or less, taxes will increase by 33%. As of last June, the expiration of the abatement had been expected by the city to raise property taxes by $430 million for 360,000 apartments.

“This is a major concern,” said one real estate insider.

Mary Ann Rothman, executive director of the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums, said she was hopeful that city officials would commit to keeping tax bills low before the Legislature could vote to reauthorize the program.

“Co-ops and condos are very, very nervous as they try to prepare realistic budgets,” she said. “Without the abatement, the prop tax component of a maintenance bill for a co-op will go up on the order of 20% to 22%. Condos … will directly experience this terrible surprise.”

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