Thiele calls tax relief ‘top priority’ for State Legislature

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. argues tax relief should be the top priority for the State Legislature in its final five weeks.
Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. argues tax relief should be the top priority for the State Legislature in its final five weeks.

The most important priority the State Legislature needs to concentrate on in its remaining five weeks is to provide real property tax relief, Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) said Monday. In January, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed what he called a “Real Property Tax Circuit Breaker Program” that would cap property taxes based on a percentage of household income.

Taxpayers with incomes of $250,000 or less would be eligible, according to the governor. He said the program would save taxpayers more than $1.7 billion with the money returned to New Yorkers in the form of income tax credits.

The proposal would be particularly beneficial to Long Island residents, Mr. Thiele said. More than 125,000 taxpayers would benefit and the average tax savings would be more than $1,100 per taxpayer, he added. Senior citizens and those living on fixed incomes can’t afford increases in property taxes, the legislator said.

But the State Legislature failed to act on the program as part of its adoption of the 2015 budget, despite both the executive and legislative branches endorsing the idea. Assembly members wanted to tie the proposal to a minimum wage increase and the Senate wanted relief delivered through rebate checks, not tax credits, Mr. Thiele said.

“Nothing would be a bigger boost for the middle class and the state economy than providing $1.7 billion in property tax relief,” Mr. Thiele said.

He argued the proposal should stand on its own without tying it to any other stipulations.

“Based upon past history, the use of income tax credits is a much more efficient and cost-effective method of getting the money back to the people,” he said.

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