BCW Lobbying Efforts Help Get Waiver of Late Fees on County Property Taxes
Westchester County Executive George Latimer received permission from Governor Andrew Cuomo to go forward with his plan to remove late fees for County residents and business for the late payment of their property taxes (New York State Executive Order No. 202.22).
Latimer said: “I want to thank Governor Cuomo for recognizing the need to help Westchester residents and businesses. I am concerned about the financial pressures that the residents of this County are under. We can, we should – and now, we are – offering them some financial relief by waiving the late payments for the County taxes now due. This is the right thing to do for our constituents.”
To provide assistance to the cities and towns that collect these taxes, the Executive Order allows for the County Executive to accept less than 60% of the taxes (along with special ad valorem levies and special assessments) due on May 25 from towns and cities, as long as the municipalities waive residents’ late fees for the late payment of property taxes up to July 15, 2020.
To have the fee waived, the resident or business must certify economic hardship caused by COVID-19. The threshold for the certification requires in part that a resident must have qualified for the STAR exemption, is not paying property taxes through an escrow account and can assert that they have suffered loss of substantial employment income as a result of COVID-19.
Business Council of Westchester Vice President and COO John Ravitz said: “The Business Council of Westchester applauds the County Executive and the Governor for adopting this Executive Order, which will send a strong message, to the residents and the business community in the County, that they will have some well-deserved breathing room regarding their payments of county taxes. This was simply the right thing to do, as businesses continue to navigate through this crisis.”
The BCW had jumped in to support Latimer earlier this month when the Board of Legislators had removed the clause waiving late fees from the legislation, making a public call for the Board of Legislators to reconsider its action.
“We are pleased to have played a part in moving this proposal forward,’’ said Marsha Gordon, President and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester. “With so many businesses closed and laying off workers due to COVID19, deferring local property tax payments to July 15 just made sense.’’