Bill and Hillary Clinton's School Property Taxes Increased
My neighbor was informed by mail yesterday that he had lost Basic STAR and that his real estate taxes were going up 10%. STAR stands for School Tax Relief. Every property owner in New York State who pays school real estate tax used to get it. This tax exemption is worth about $2,000 per year per homeowner in Dobbs Ferry where I live.
The letter from Edye McCarthy, the Greenburgh Town Assessor, informed him of the infraction that caused his loss. He had reported too much income on his IRS Form 1040 in 2010. Bill and Hillary Clinton who live in Chappaqua nearby are in the same boat.
He called the Dobbs Ferry Free Union School District and inquired. No one at the School District was aware that the 2011 Basic STAR rebate had been rescinded for property owners earning more than $500,000 per year in 2010.
He called a School Board Member who is on the Westchester-Putnam School Boards Association’s Legislative Committee. She was unaware that a 'means test' had been placed on Basic STAR. Strange, because she had been in Albany lobbying State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Member Tom Abinanti the week before and there had been no mention of taking away Basic STAR from the rich and their neighbors, the Clintons. The elected officials had talked and talked and talked about the politically charged proposals to cap real estate tax increases and tax millionaires, but not word about Basic STAR being taken away from the merely wealthy.
The School Board member then called New York State and was informed that Basic STAR had indeed been taken away from the ‘affluent’. This stealth tax has been included in the budget approved on August 3, 2010 at the last minute.
A scan of the media since August 3, 2010 does not turn up a single mention of this ‘taxation without representation’. But then again, that is the way New York State works. Three men in a room; the Legislature a rubber stamp. This provision was probably put into the budget so late in the process that the ink was not dry when the bill was presented for a vote. The legislature considers 18,000 bills per year and passes 2,000, so who has time to read them; what an expensive joke.
Some might say that the Town of Greenburgh which is five miles away from where the Clintons live in Chappaqua deserves to be taxed becuase it is so rich. 4,200 households out of about 35,000 made more than $500,000 in 2010 according to Edye McCarthy, the Town Assessor. That is more than 10% of the population. As Edye wrote, “Please be patient should you call or come to the Assessment Department as this new State mandate on the Town is expected in result in an unavailable wait time as we process applications, grievance petitions and inquiries related the 4,200 letters we sent to homeowners affected the the legislation”. Especially, because no one ever heard about it and our elected officials including each and every one of the 60 School Board member in the Town of Greenburgh were not aware that this tax had been levied on their constituents. .
Taking away Basic STAR from the elite of Dobbs Ferry will have a material impact on the School budget. It will save the State about $800,000 which the high income families will have to pay directly to the School District. Most people in Dobbs Ferry don’t understand that the State Government provides about 30% of the school budget if the STAR program is factored it. Most of this money is provide under a weird barter system. The State gives the schools money only after deducting their annual contribution to the State Retirement System. In essence, State ‘funny money’ is traded for underfunded pension plan ‘funny money’.
My poor neighbor just saw his school tax bill increased by 10% -- from $22,000 per year to $24,000 per year, so all the hard work of the Budget Committee to limit the property tax increase to less than Andrew Cuomo’s proposed 2% cap was in vain for the ‘young working rich’. Remember that the ‘old rich’ have all their earnings hidden in tax sheltered 401K’s and IRA’s that don’t show up on a IRS Form 1040.
Chalk it up to another stealth tax for which the New York State Legislature is famous and add it to its endless list of fiscal creativity: hotel premiums, rental car charges, parking fees, insurance surcharges, phone usage taxes, bottle deposits, Regency Exam fees etc.
Expect the cap to be reduced to $250,000 per year in line with the definition of ‘rich’ in certain Democratic circles in Washington DC.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.