Press Release

Gillibrand Unveils New Effort to Provide Property Tax Relief for Rochester/Finger Lakes Region

Sep 18, 2009

Rochester, NY – U.S. Senator
Kirsten Gillibrand today unveiled a new effort to provide property tax relief
to thousands of middle-class families in the Rochester/Finger Lakes Region. As
Senator Gillibrand tours New York discussing the economy, one of the biggest
concerns among families and homeowners is high property taxes. Community
leaders express frustration about finding ways to finance expensive water
infrastructure projects and handling unfunded federal mandates. Without
the support from the federal government, communities are forced to raise local
taxes on residents.

“For many, owning a home is the American Dream. But crippling taxes coupled
with high energy costs prevents many individuals from ever making that dream a
reality,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Reducing property taxes is no easy feat.
Yet more and more families have been struggling to pay these rising costs and
some have already left for other states. In order to sustain New York’s
workforce, character and people, the federal government must play its part to
assist local communities address the burden of high property taxes.”

According to calculations based on data from the Tax Foundation and the U.S.
Census, nearly 193,000 homeowners in the Rochester/Finger Lakes Region do not
itemize their taxes and therefore cannot deduct their property taxes. If they
could, individuals could potentially save more than $120 million,










































Senator Gillibrand launched a new effort to provide property tax relief in New
York State.

1. Increase Funding For Water Infrastructure:
New York, communities are burdened by antiquated water systems that do not
adequately serve residents or businesses. According to reports released by
the New York State Department’s of Health and Environmental Conservation, New
York will need at least $75 billion for repairing, replacing, and updating
aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. Senator Gillibrand is
working to ensure that local taxpayers aren’t stuck footing the bill for New
York’s failing infrastructure.

As a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, Senator
Gillibrand is playing a leading role on the Water Infrastructure Financing
Senator Gillibrand helped secure $20 billion nationwide for the Clean
Water Revolving Fund over the next five years.  The current authorization
was set at a mere $600 million. The legislation also authorized $14.7 billion
for the Drinking Water State Revolving Funds over the next five years. 
The current authorization that expired in 2003 was authorized at only $1
billion per year.

Last year, New York received just over $75 million from the Clean Water
Revolving Fund.  Under this legislation, New York would receive $244
million next year – an increase of more than $168 million dollars.  This
will go a long way to rebuild failing water infrastructure, create thousands of
jobs and reduce the local property tax burden.

In addition, Senator Gillibrand worked to ensure
that poor communities within larger urban areas are eligible to receive
additional support reserved for disadvantaged communities, including low
interest loans, loan forgiveness, negative interest rates and increased

2. Fully Fund Federal Education
Senator Gillibrand believes education is
another area where the federal government can do more to reduce the burden on
property taxpayers. Rochester has one of the best education systems in the
country, but it comes at a high price. Federal programs do more harm than good
when they are left unfunded, putting an additional burden on property taxpayers,
who must ultimately make up the shortfall.

One way to balance the cost and quality of education is to fully fund federal
programs like No Child Left Behind and special education. For example, special
education requirements are particularly onerous and remain underfunded. 
When the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act
(IDEA) was enacted, it was supposed to be funded at the 40
percent level but has never been funded above 20 percent.  Special
education costs increase every year and New York State has additional
requirements that drive cost even higher, adding an estimated $1.3 billion more

3. Make
Property Taxes Tax Deductible for Individuals Who Don’t Itemize
Senator Gillibrand introduced
bipartisan legislation with Senator Evan Byah (D-IN) this summer that would
expand and make permanent federal property tax relief for New Yorkers who do
not itemize their federal tax deductions. The enhanced deduction would offer
new tax relief for up to 30 million homeowners across the country.

Prior to 2008, only taxpayers who itemized their deductions could claim a
deduction for state and local property taxes. Last summer, as part of the Housing
and Economic Recovery Act,
Congress temporarily allowed non-itemizing
taxpayers to deduct their property taxes. However, this deduction was capped at
only $500 and will expire at the end of this year.
Senator Gillibrand’s legislation would lift the caps and makes the property tax
relief permanent.

The current tax code favors filers who itemize, because it allows taxpayers to
take advantage of property tax deductions that are unavailable to non-itemizing
taxpayers.  The benefit of this legislation would vary according to the
value of their home and their tax rate. For example:

  • A non-itemizing family with $75,000 of taxable income
    and a $3,000 property tax bill would receive a $750 tax cut this year-$500
    more than under current law;

  • A non-itemizing single taxpayer with $50,000 of taxable
    income and a $2,000 property tax bill would receive a $300 tax cut-$225
    more than under current law;

  • A non-itemizing senior citizen on a fixed income of
    $35,000 per year and a $1,500 property tax bill would see a $225 tax
    cut-$150 more than under current law.