New York State Exposed: Renters tax credits

Posted at: 03/31/2014 5:44 PM
By: Brett Davidsen

The state budget calls for a tax credit for renters, but upstate residents are finding out they've been left out of the deal.

As details of the budget agreement continue to trickle out, News10NBC is looking into how it affects you in our series of New York State Exposed reports. 

The new budget calls for a tax credit for renters. So why is it only New York City residents qualify? In order for the governor to get property tax rebates for homeowners, New York City politicians were able to deliver tax credits for renters there. 

The budget agreement now being voted on in Albany provides a tax credit for people who rent. Based on income, renters who meet the required threshold could get an average tax credit of about $400. Problem is renters in Rochester don’t qualify. It’s only residents in New York City. 

Scott Little said, "It's not very fair that just because we live upstate, we don't get to reap the benefits of what is going on down there."

Joseph Raymond said, "Giving people a tax rebate for renting in New York City is just as beneficial there as giving a landlord a rebate here."

From the day he proposed his budget in January, Governor Cuomo has hammered away at the state's unacceptably high taxes. He's called for a property tax rebate whereby taxpayers would get the tax break if their local governments kept spending under the state tax cap. But that only benefits homeowners and most of them live upstate. For New York City, where an estimated two-thirds of residents rent, it meant no relief. New York City residents tend to pay a much higher percentage of their income toward rent.  So to sweeten the pot and gain downstate support, the budget includes a tax credit for renters in New York City.

Betsy Lyman, Citizens Budget Commission, said, "I think it was an attempt to kind of look at regional balance, and in the final analysis, the city is the one that got the renter's benefit even though we know in other cities there are a lot of renters."

Monroe County might have a case for why local residents should share in a tax credit. According to a report this month by the state comptroller's office, nearly 54 percent of renter households in Monroe county area are above the affordability threshold, among the highest in the state.