City Council Grants Property Tax Extensions To Homeowners Without Homes

At least there's a tax extension?

At least there’s a tax extension on these places

At least there’s one benefit for those whose homes were destroyed or significantly damaged during Hurricane Sandy. Today, the city council voted to give owners of such properties an interest-free extension on their next property tax bill— a three month grace period that extends until April 1, 2013 (tax bills are usually due on January 1).

Which a little more time to pay taxes on a home that’s no longer is not really all that much of a consolation for home-owners, at least it gives people a little more time to collect on insurance payouts (for those lucky enough to have insurance payments to collect on). And the city’s coffers do need an infusion of funds—New York is $19 billion out of pocket for the Hurricane (though federal funds should be forthcoming).

But not just anyone who experienced a soggy basement can take advantage of the break. Only properties that were red tagged by the Department of Buildings—i.e. uninhabitable now and in the immediate future—qualify, meaning that damage is so bad that the house must be demolished or have extensive structural before anyone can live there.

“Enacting this grace period is one small way we can reassure people who are worried they won’t be able to pay the bill on time, and it’s also going to give them a little bit of extra money,” council speaker Christine Quinn said in a release.

About 3,000 properties are eligible for the extension, according to the Council. The average property tax bill is $506.

The extension was proposed by councilmembers Vincent Ignizio and James Oddo, who represented Staten Island, where much of the worst damage occurred.

This legislation is the first step in a multi-pronged effort to provide those affected with property tax relief.  I look forward to the next step, which will include businesses and rebates for property owners most affected,” said Mr. Oddo in a statement.

The IRS is also offering tax extensions for New York State residents affected by Sandy, pushing back the deadline for return filing and tax payment.

And, for those who don’t rebuild their homes to their former glory, there’s the promise of a reduced assessment next year.

kvelsey@observer.com