Give thanks for little favors: After years of rampant growth, property taxes in New York State have leveled off in the past few years.
According to a study released last week, “Annual property tax levy increases have slowed significantly since 2005 and dipped below two percent in 2015, where they remained until 2019,” State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.
Local governments in New York levied a total of $36.6 billion in property taxes in 2019, an increase of 2.4 percent over 2018.
The state, led by Governor Andrew Cuomo, in 2012, implemented a two-percent property tax cap that limits levy increases to two percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, with some exceptions. On the East End, school districts routinely ran up increases above that threshold, often accounting for nearly two thirds of property taxes.
“Taxpayers want to know how their taxes compare to other municipalities and whether their local officials are holding the line on tax increases,” DiNapoli said. “Overall, municipalities have generally held property tax levy growth to below two percent for the last few years.”
There are more than 3700 taxing jurisdictions with independent authority to levy property taxes in New York state. These include counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts, fire districts, and other special districts. Property tax collections are a significant revenue source for local governments, making up 43 percent of revenues in 2018.
From 2017 to 2019, property tax levies increased the most in cities (6.1 percent), towns (4.4 percent), and school districts (four percent). Village levies grew 1.7 percent. The report also noted that school districts alone levied nearly $23 billion in 2019 or 63 percent of all property taxes. Counties accounted for nearly $6 billion or 16 percent of property taxes.
Four counties (Erie, Oswego, Columbia, and Nassau) saw property values grow by more than 10 percent in the past two years.
School districts generally imposed the highest tax rates at $17.46 per $1000 of full property value.
City tax rates were twice as high as those in villages, and nearly three times higher than those in towns.