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Don’t Miss The Deadline

Every cloud has a silver lining.  The one good thing about paying more real estate tax is that you can get more back – under the City’s Co-op/Condo Property Tax Abatement Program. (It was established so apartment owners wouldn’t have to pay so much more than owners of individual homes that are assessed at a lower percent of market value.) But you have to file by February 15th in order for benefits to kick in .by the beginning of fiscal year 2011, which starts this July1.  Otherwise you’ll have to wait a whole other year to get your abatement.

 It was bad enough losing those $400 rebate checks that the Mayor and City Council did away with in order to help plug the gapping hole in the City’s budget. But you could lose a lot more if you don’t take advantage of the Abatement Program. Basically, if you qualify, you’re entitled to a rebate of approximately 17.5% of your share of real estate taxes that you pay through maintenance, if you live in a co-op, or on your own, if you live in a condo. Last year my cut was about $2,000.

If you’ve lived in your building for awhile, chances are the necessary filing has been made. But assume nothing. Someone in my building recently found out the hard way about the cash she’d let slip through her fingers when she sold her apartment and the buyer asked for his pro rata share of the rebate. What rebate? Oops!  Apartment eligibility is determined by the prior owner’s abatement status. By the time the whole mess was cleared up, the February 15th deadline had passed, and the new owner had to wait another year to claim any benefits – an expensive lesson for both. Don’t let it happen to you, especially if you’re new to the building.

 Here’s the tricky part.  Just because you filed on time to get the rebate, doesn’t mean you’ll see any money.  Boards in lots of co-ops impose an annual assessment approximating the amount of the rebate to fill their own budget shortfalls.  Some earmark this found money to help replenish cash reserves. They figure it’s a relatively painless way to raise revenue because you don’t have to write a check so it seems like it’s not real money. Except it is – in fact buildings get a list from the City every year telling exactly how much your abatement is so that they can then turn around and assess you that amount. Both numbers should appear on your maintenance bill no later than March. 

Maybe you don’t get cash, but at least you get bragging rights. This is one of the few areas where you have superior rights to the sponsor (See, So You Wanna Be A Super Chief.)  The City figures Big Shot Super Jefes don’t need the tax breaks the rest of us do.  But even though they don’t get the benefit of the abatement, they have to pay the assessment imposed by the board, forcing them to help fill the building’s coffers from their own pockets.  That’s what I call poetic justice.

In addition to the abatement, there are a number of exemptions available, including STAR, and others, for which the filing deadline is March 15th.

Tax Savings Programs for Individual NYC Property Owners

Download an application for abatements and exemptions

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