U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representative Tom Suozzi announced that their bill to reverse a 2020 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ruling that Suffolk County residents must pay taxes on county grants used to upgrade their septic tanks was included in President Biden’s Build Back Better plan. Gillibrand and Rep. Suozzi previously introduced this bill in April.
“Finally, Long Islanders are one step closer to upgrading their septic tanks without the fear or burden of being taxed on the grants needed to improve their wastewaster infrastructure. This is good news for the environment, and good news for homeowners across the island. I will continue fighting to eliminate any unnecessary hurdles for New Yorkers who have been proactive in their efforts to upgrade their septic tanks,” said Senator Gillibrand.
“Tax relief is on its way to Long Islanders who get grants to replace their septic systems! Working alongside Senator Gillibrand, we ensured Long Islanders will no longer be forced to pay taxes on basic environmental clean-up,” said Representative Suozzi. “This is a win for environmental clean-up and the pocket books of hardworking, middle class families.”
“We are thrilled that the fix to the septic grant tax is in the Build Back Better Framework and that this unfair tax burden and barrier to combatting Long Island’s nitrogen pollution problem will be removed. This is a win for the hard-working public and for clean water. Nitrogen pollution impacts local lakes, harbors, and bays by causing toxic tides such as brown tide, blue-green algae, and red tide. Homeowners can be part of the solution by upgrading their aging septic tanks and cesspools to new systems that treat nitrogen. This critical language is a relief for homeowners investing in solutions to advance clean water. No longer will homeowners be unnecessarily and unfairly taxed for fighting nitrogen pollution. Thank you to Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Suozzi for their perseverance in getting this done,” stated Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
“The Nature Conservancy is deeply grateful to Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Suozzi for their relentless leadership to align federal tax policy with local and state strategies to protect clean water. Now, Long Island homeowners will have incentives at every level of government to replace polluting wastewater systems and help bring clean water back to Long Island. Thanks to their unwavering commitment, a sizable obstacle has been removed for thousands of Long Islanders to replace polluting systems with clean water technology. In addition, homeowners who already received a grant will be able to seek a refund for taxes paid on clean water septic grants. The effect of the legislation extends far past Long Island and its millions of residents; it paves the way for communities all across the nation, from Florida to Hawaii, to establish successful grant programs that protect clean water, reduce pollution, improve public health, and restore wildlife habitat,” said The Nature Conservancy’s Greg Jacob, New York senior policy advisor.
On Long Island, nitrogen pollution from septic tanks has been identified as the single largest contributor to deteriorating groundwater quality. According to Suffolk County officials, sewering low-lying South Shore areas reliant on septic systems would guard against coastal flooding by reducing nitrogen levels, allowing for the regrowth of wetlands that provide a natural storm buffer. About 360,000, or three-quarters of Suffolk homes, are not sewered, and many use cesspools that minimally treat wastewater before releasing it into the ground.