By Michael Hill
ALBANY— A key state lawmaker said Monday that he feared implementation of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed property tax freeze would be "a nightmare."
State Senate Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco raised the concern to the state's tax commissioner during a budget hearing focused on the governor's plan for more than $2 billion annually in tax relief. DeFrancisco and other lawmakers peppered Tax Commissioner Thomas Mattox with pointed questions about the broad-based plan.
Cuomo's budget proposes tax rebates to homeowners who live in jurisdictions that stay within a 2 percent property tax cap. DeFrancisco said the break, which would be distributed the form of a personal income tax credit, could confuse people. The Syracuse Republican said Mattox's agency would have to audit millions of tax returns.
"It seems to me this new proposal on property tax relief if the municipality stays within a percentage of growth to 2 percent is a nightmare, an absolute nightmare," DeFrancisco told Mattox, "and you have to administer it."
Other lawmakers questioned how the tax rebates would be rolled out given the overlapping levels of government in the state — like towns and school districts — and their different tax schedules. Mattox told lawmakers the proposals are still being worked on and will be made a simple as possible for taxpayers.
"We do spend a lot of time thinking about how to be as efficient as possible," Mattox told DeFrancisco.
Legislators are examining Cuomo's proposed $137.2 billion budget proposal for the fiscal year starting in April. The proposal includes not only a property tax freeze but corporate tax breaks and a renters' tax credit.
Sen. Diane Savino, a Staten Island Democrat, said she was concerned that Cuomo's proposal to streamline corporate franchise and bank taxes would disproportionately benefit banks to the detriment of the state treasury.
Mattox said the business tax changes would make them consistent with federal rules and make compliance easier.