2017-11-01 / Features

Bill To Help Manage Property Taxes Announced


Council Member Costa Constantinides announcing that he would introduce a bill to ease property tax management. He was joined in support by Assembly Member Aravella Simotas; Marie Torniali, Executive Director of Central Astoria Local Development Coalition and Steinway Astoria Partnership (Steinway BID); Greek American Homeowners Association; North Queens Homeowners Association; and local homeowners. Council Member Costa Constantinides announcing that he would introduce a bill to ease property tax management. He was joined in support by Assembly Member Aravella Simotas; Marie Torniali, Executive Director of Central Astoria Local Development Coalition and Steinway Astoria Partnership (Steinway BID); Greek American Homeowners Association; North Queens Homeowners Association; and local homeowners. Council Member Costa Constantinides announced on October 30 that he would introduce a bill to ease property tax management, creating greater transparency between the Department of Finance (DOF) and property owners. He was joined in support by Assembly Member Aravella Simotas; Marie Torniali, Executive Director of Central Astoria Local Development Coalition; the Steinway Astoria Partnership (Steinway BID); Greek American Homeowners Association; North Queens Homeowners Association; and local homeowners. Constantinides introduced the legislation at the Council’s Stated Meeting on October 31.

The bill would create a secure online portal for homeowners and other property owners to pay their taxes, directly submit questions to the DOF, and view their records. They’d be able to access specific information regarding their properties, including applications for exemptions like the Senior Citizen Homeowners’ Exemption, status of exemptions, date by which they’d need to apply to renew an exemption, whether anything has expired in their record, payment status, resources available, and any other DOF documents. If a property owner’s application is rejected, a reason for the rejection would be provided. Property owners could set up alerts for any changes. The website would be updated daily.

Currently, property owners rely on receiving letters in the mail once-per-quarter with their property tax bill. If they apply for a property tax exemption, they have to wait for a mailed letter letting them know whether their application was accepted, rejected, or incomplete. Letters addressed to the property owner could take months to be received. Property owners cannot directly call the DOF to inquire whether their application has been received, if any documents are missing, or if their exemption is still active. This bill would create a website as secure way to check application status and exemption status.

Constantinides said, “For too long our city’s homeowners have had to contend with a cumbersome Department of Finance website and wait months for mailed letters only to find out their property tax exemption application was rejected or had already expired. Homeowners deserve a 21st century method of viewing information pertinent to their property. This legislation would make the process more individualized, transparent, secure, and quick. If property owners can more efficiently interact with the DOF and view property information, properties will be better managed and everybody wins. Thank you to my colleagues in government, local homeowners and property owners groups, and community members for their support on this.”

“A secure website for property owners to pay their taxes, view pertinent information on exemptions, applications, payment status, and the like as well as submit questions will be a great tool for property owners to stay current preventing loss of exemptions and late tax payments. The current system puts the onus on property owners and is inefficient, causes delays, and negates the ability to rectify problems easily,” said Marie Torniali, Executive Director of Central Astoria Local Development Coalition and Steinway Astoria Partnership.

“Homeowners in my district have seen their finances strained under a broken property tax system that disproportionately benefits luxury high-rise and condominium owners,” said legislation co-sponsor Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “I thank Council Member Constantinides for the opportunity to join him as a co-sponsor on this bill. Populations deserving of consideration in these unfavorable conditions, like our seniors, people with disabilities and veterans, need user-friendly access to real-time information about their property tax exemptions, so they can conserve their precious earnings and maintain ownership of their homes.”

Simotas said, “I applaud Council Member Costa Constantinides for this legislation which will help take away some of the pain for tax-paying property owners who often feel mired in confusing paperwork. The property tax system is problematic enough without having to navigate cumbersome bureaucracy. Having a responsive website as the Council Member envisions it, will ease some of the frustrations and make the whole process easier to navigate.”

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