ALBANY – Albany County Legislature Chairman Andrew Joyce and Elder Care Committee Chairwoman Carolyn McLaughlin are co-sponsoring legislation to increase the number of senior homeowners eligible for a reduction in their property taxes. The legislation, scheduled to be introduced in April, would raise the current income threshold from $29,000 to $50,000, and receive up to a 50 percent reduction in their tax burden.
“This is an important mission Albany County is embarking on to make sure seniors have more money in their pockets going through this economy,” Joyce said. “If you’re on a fixed income, it’s even more difficult. We know this will make a big impact for individuals in Albany County and our aging community … for those quality of life things. For that cup of coffee, for lunch with a friend, or a night out at the movies — those things that make a big difference in a senior’s life.”
According to the State Taxation and Finance website, local governments and school districts were given the option to increase income eligibility for the NYS real property tax exemption to $50,000 for seniors over 65 and people with disabilities. There are three additional sliding-scale options municipalities may use to provide an exemption to seniors with incomes greater than the local maximum. Those include:
· $55,700 for a 20 percent exemption,
· $57,500 for a 10 percent exemption, or
· $58,400 for a 5 percent exemption.
“How are we as a county going to pass that test,” McLaughlin asked, paraphrasing former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey. “We will be judged by how we treat those seniors in our community, the young in our community, [and] those who are physically incapable of taking care of themselves.”
McLaughlin said lawmakers are trying to have a positive impact in Albany County by enacting new income limits to make sure people are no longer penalized for having worked hard all their life.
“People have enough reasons why they can’t stay in their homes,” she said. “Taxes should not be [one of those] reasons.”
The proposed County legislation comes amid several other efforts by towns and school districts within the County to reduce the property tax burden for veterans and first responders, including Bethlehem, Guilderland, and Voorheeseville.