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City Council passes bill to help seniors and low-income homeowners manage their property tax

There might be a sigh of relief from senior low-income homeowners in Brooklyn thanks to the City Council’s passage of a new bill that will them pay their property taxes and other outstanding debts in an effort to ensure that they keep their homes.

Most notably, one of the payment agreement plans would give low-income seniors the option to defer some or all of their property tax payments until the property is sold or otherwise transferred, at which point the city would be paid the taxes it is owed from the proceeds of the sale.

This is the first time New York City has offered anything like this and it will go a long way to help seniors on a fixed income be able to afford their taxes and age in place.

The other two plans would be available to other low-income homeowners to enter into payment agreements for property tax arrears where the installment amounts they have to pay will be based on a percentage of their income, so they can actually afford the payment plans and stay out of default and the lien sale. 

The three new types of payment agreement plans are available to homeowners who earn less than $58,400 annually so they can afford their property taxes and avoid being included in the lien sale. The proposal will be available to owners of one, two or three-family homes and condominiums, as long as that home is their primary residence.

The three plans are:

  • Senior low-income: Seniors have the option to defer their property tax payments until the property is sold or otherwise transferred. They can choose to pay 0, 25, 50 or 75 percent of property taxes until death or until when the property is sold.
  • Fixed-length low-income: Low-income homeowners can pay two, four, six or eight percent of their income until their property tax debt is paid off.
  • Extenuating circumstances low-income plan: Low-income homeowners with extenuating circumstances (loss of income because of unemployment, treatment of illness, military service, etc.) can pay two, four, six or eight percent of their income for a one year period that can be extended if circumstances continue.

  “As property taxes and the cost of living continues to increase in New York, many senior and low-income homeowners struggle to make ends meet, and at times have to choose between paying property taxes, putting food on the table or buying medicine and healthcare,” said Council Speaker Cory Johnson.

“These New Yorkers face difficulties to pay their property taxes and it makes it harder for them to remain in their homes and in their communities,” he went on. “Affordability is one of the biggest issues we are facing as a city, and this bill will help New Yorkers stay in their homes and stay in their communities. This creative program will assist homeowners to come out with a payment plan to ensure that they don’t lose the home they worked so hard for.”

Councilmember Justin Brannan also voiced his support for the bill. “I was proud to have voted for legislation that would grant reasonable consideration to seniors and those on fixed incomes who may need a little more time to pay their property tax bill as we continue to examine ways to overhaul the entire property tax system to one that is much fairer and more equitable,” Brannan told this paper.

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