State Senators push plan to eliminate school taxes for homeowners over age 65

January 10, 2018 06:54 PM

News10NBC is always looking for new ways to make living in New York State more affordable. So when New York State Senate Republicans came out with the plan to cut school taxes for every homeowner over 65 to zero, it got our attention.

If you're over age 65, you already get a break on school taxes. It's called Enhanced STAR. This plan says after a ten-year phase in period you pay zero.

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Our question is: How do you pay for that?

The tax cut is part of a state Senate Republican plan call "The Affordability Agenda." One of the sponsors is Senator Pat Gallivan.

Berkeley Brean: "And I think that's where people say -- 'good idea, how do you pay for it?'"
Sen. Pat Gallivan: "There won't be a loss of revenue. This will be, as proposed, it'll be done at the state level where we will identify other areas to cut in order to keep school districts whole."

When I posted this story on Facebook, it got dozens of comments including one from Susan Broadhurst -- a homeowner and parent in Pittsford.

"Lowering taxes on 65 and over adults who own homes isn't necessarily addressing the big picture," says Broadhurst.

She means the big picture on why it's so expensive to live in New York State. "If we're not paying it in school taxes when we're 65, we're going to pay it somewhere else."

I then took the plan to John Abbott. He's the deputy superintendent at East Irondequoit schools. He says homeowners 65 and over pay 17 percent of the district's taxes -- more than $7 million.

Brean: "That's a lot of money."
Abbott: "It's a lot of money. The question with this proposal is - who's going to pay for it?"

Brean: "The proposal is that the state would make school districts whole."
Abbott: "Under those conditions, it's tough for us to argue but there are large dollars that would be behind any such program."

The plan is the state makes up the difference -- that's how the STAR program works. But we did the math: If senior homeowners paid no school tax, the state would have to cover $157 million and it's looking at a $9 billion deficit.


Berkeley Brean

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