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  March 9, 2004

A Property Tax Rebate that is the Right Thing To Do
By Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

During the past two years, we have taken difficult steps to balance New York City’s budget – in the face of record deficits – that have kept our city safer than ever and put us on the road to economic recovery. Now, it is time to help the taxpayers who went to bat for the City when we needed it most.

In 2002, facing the most severe fiscal crisis since the 1970s, we were forced to raise property taxes. Now that our economic outlook has brightened, providing tax relief to those who made the largest financial sacrifices – owners of family houses, co-ops, and condos – must be a first priority.

I have proposed a balanced budget that includes a $400 property tax rebate for every New York City homeowner. The rebate, to be given annually, would offset the higher property taxes that homeowners are now paying. The budget proposal also eliminates the sales tax for clothing and shoes under $110 on June 1, 2004, as scheduled.

Reducing the sales tax on all New Yorkers and providing property tax relief to the homeowners who sacrificed most to pull the City through its fiscal crisis will keep New York growing. A $400 property tax rebate puts $250 million into the hands of New York’s hardworking homeowners, who will pump the money into the City’s economy, helping small businesses and creating jobs.

The proposal by City Council, however, would give millions to large corporations, commercial landlords and real estate moguls, while homeowners would be left with next to nothing. Some owners of midtown office buildings would get tax cuts of more than $500,000, and one large utility company would get an $8 million tax cut –enough to send 20,000 homeowners $400 each!

The Council’s plan is based on pure trickle-down economics: give away huge tax cuts to landlords and hope that a tiny amount – $45 – will trickle down to tenants. But there is no evidence that landlords’ savings will be passed down to tenants, who may get nothing at all. Homeowners, too, would fare badly: most would get a measly $53 – some would get even less, while wealthy owners of the City’s most expensive real estate would get tax cuts of more than $1,000.

The choice couldn’t be clearer: My plan directs all the financial benefits to homeowners and their families; the Council’s plan sends the biggest benefits to large corporations and commercial landlords. My plan gives every homeowner an equal benefit – $400; the Council’s plan offers millions to wealthy property owners and crumbs to everyone else. My plan pumps real money to New Yorkers; the Council’s plan hopes that a tiny amount will trickle-down.

Now that we are on the rebound, providing real tax relief to the homeowners who have made the largest financial sacrifices is the right thing to do.