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Sen. Little proposes cap on property taxes

ALBANY Property taxes are spiraling in the North Country, State Sen. Betty Little said Monday as she pledged in an Albany press conference to provide relief to homeowners across the state. Backed up by a tax reform advocate from Ticonderoga, she and another state legislator said they were reintroducing a bill that would limit the amount of residential property taxes an individual pays based on their annual income. This measure we call it the circuit breaker program helps out people who have an overload of taxes, Little said. It is wrong that some people are at risk of being forced out of their homes because their taxes have doubled and their income hasnt kept pace. This circuit breaker tax cap would offer people credits on their state income tax returns for the combined property taxes school district, town and county levies paid on residences theyve lived in for five years or more. Assemblywoman Sandy Galef (D-Ossining) is co-sponsoring the measure. Among those praising the bill at Mondays conference was John Whiteley of Ticonderoga, legislative liaison for the state Property Tax Reform Coalition. Property taxes have gone out of sight recently, and hundreds of thousands of people, many on low or fixed incomes, are paying an extraordinary percentage of their incomes toward these taxes, Whiteley said. Many of these people are struggling to keep the homes theyve lived in for many years and this bill is urgently needed to provide relief. The credit would equal 70 percent of taxes paid above a percentage of household income, and that percentage would vary from 6 to 8 percent, based on income. To get the tax credit, taxpayers would have to file form IT-214 with their state income tax return. That tax-relief program now exists, but it has a household income maximum of $18,000, an amount that would be raised to $250,000 under the newly-amended bill. The original circuit-breaker program that Little first introduced last year wasnt passed by the legislature. Little said this sessions newly amended version had a better chance at passing, because theres new awareness over the burden of property taxes. The circuit breaker program would replace the STAR middle-class rebate, while preserving the basic and enhanced STAR property tax rebate programs. Little said the circuit breaker would save taxpayers $1.6 billion dollars, the same amount the middle-class rebate is now returning to taxpayers. She said although this fact might indicate the circuit breaker bill wouldnt offer additional tax relief overall, it would actually better target people who truly need the break. Our legislation would create a fairer system, providing immediate help targeted to those having the greatest difficulty paying their tax bills, she said.ant to join the Veterans for Peace, contact me.

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