Thursday, January 8, 2009

Absentee Landlord Tax?

by Anthony Torres

While living directly in the middle of a community that faces severe social and economic issues directly related to absentee landlords, I thought I had come up with a solution to this problem. An Absentee Landlord Tax, or surcharge. Amazingly, after repeated requests to Legislator Kate Browning's office in regards to this issue, I've still not had the opportunity to speak directly with her regarding this, and am hopeful that in the near future she will consider this as a viable solution to quell the abhorrent amount of these landlords that do not pay their fair share in property and school taxes.

New York City implemented this tax in 2003, by a 40-2 vote, stating that all Class 1 units, (1,2,3, and 4 apartments and/or-homes), pay a 25% surcharge on these absentee dwellings, which in turn was estimated to garner $44,000,000.00 per year in revenue. Although Mayor Bloomberg was against this measure, he instead reduced the amount the city required, and PDF downloads are available for owners who feel they are exempt from this tax.

The Town of Brookhaven, especially the Tri-Hamlet community (Mastic, Mastic Beach, and Shirley) have a school system that currently accommodates over 10,000 children, and of that number approximately 3,900 children come from transient housing. At an average cost of $14,000.00 per child to attend school, the tax burden has fallen disproportionately on the homeowners with an average library tax of $867.00 per year due to transients living in this community and taking advantage of services they pay no taxes into.

After being informed that Nassau County has had this type of taxation in effect for over three years, my question is why has Suffolk County not embraced this? With 11 separate townships, all with individual tax acessors, I find it difficult to believe that the Town of Brookhaven has not done it's service to the homeowners in assuring that the pilfering of these landlords ceases.

Affordable housing unfortunately attracts these types of landlords, and with this also comes the social ills that degrade property values, hinders investment, attracts sober and sex offender housing, denies all children of a solid education due to overcrowding, etc. Although there are some very good landlords and tenants in this area, the sheer amount of absentee landlords that do not even live in either the township that they rent their homes in, nor in the county itself, is a testament to the need for this type of taxation. A minimum of 20% of the assessed property home value would be incentive for these landlords to find it unaffordable to continue conducting business here. This may then give a property seeker the incentive to purchase these homes, which in turn would cause the tax burden on the community to be lowered, eventually raising property values, all without the need for village incorporation.

Anthony Torres is a resident of Shirley, NY