Thingish Things

The Swiss Cheese Tax Cap

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Jun• 30•11

Governor Andrew Cuomo held a beautifully staged press conference on a tree-lined street in Pleasantville, NY  today to formally sign New York State’s new 2% tax cap into law. Normal Rockwell would have painted the scene had he been alive to see it.

The only problem with the event – and I don’t mean to sound too critical of the governor because he had a terrific legislative session —  is that the new law is a sham.  And almost everyone at the bill-signing event knew it.

The tax cap is like Swiss cheese.  It is full of loopholes that will, in effect, provide little or no real tax relief to struggling New York State homeowners. Pension costs are exempt from the cap, as are other mandates that are the key drivers of property tax increases.

It is easier to think of the tax cap as a spending cap. That is its true intention. With a cap on taxes, the logic goes, state and local governments will have to trim growth in their budgets.  But imagine a spending cap where the most expensive items don’t count toward the total.  Call it whatever you will, but it’s the same thing as having no cap at all.  You can call ketchup marina sauce, but at the end of the day, it is still ketchup.

Pretty bill signaling.  But the property tax crisis in New York isn’t fixed at all.  It won’t be until localities get mandate relief.  Let’s hope Governor Cuomo can deliver that next. Every homeowner should be rooting for him.


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