The Council of the City of New York
Office of Council Member Costa Constantinides
For Immediate Release
October 30, 2017
Contact: Shachar Sharon
Constantinides Announces Introduction of Bill to Easily Manage Property Taxes
Astoria, N.Y. – Council Member Costa Constantinides today announced that he will 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 Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, Central Astoria Local Development Coalition, Steinway Astoria Partnership (Steinway BID), Greek American Homeowners Association, North Queens Homeowners Association, and local homeowners. Constantinides will introduce the legislation, INT. 1746, at the Council’s Stated Meeting on October 31st.
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 receive. 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.
Council Member 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 is 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 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.”
Assemblymember Simotas said, “I applaud Councilmember 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 Councilmember envisions it, will ease some of the frustrations and make the whole process easier to navigate.”
Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on six additional committees: Civil Service & Labor, Contracts, Cultural Affairs, Oversight & Investigations, Sanitation, and Transportation. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.