A newly proposed state law aims to give wartime veterans living on the South Fork greater property tax exemptions that are reflective of the high cost of East End real estate.
Under current law, wartime veterans are eligible for a 15-percent property tax exemption on the first $360,000 of assessed value of their homes. Combat vets get 25 percent and disabled vets get 50 percent. Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., I-Sag Harbor, and state Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, R-Port Jefferson, are proposing to increase the cap to $500,000.
Thiele said in an interview Thursday that the impact of the exemption has shrunk on the South Fork as property assessments have risen. “In a town like Southampton or East Hampton, where almost every house is assessed at more than $300,000, this would restore some of that exemption value,” he said.
The legislation arose after Southampton Town discovered a few months ago it had been miscalculating the exemption, Thiele said. “Eighty-five percent [of veterans] got too much between 2006 and this year,” he said.
The town is not trying to recoup the money it lost, Thiele said. Instead, the new law would enable the additional tax relief to continue.
“[T]his legislation is an important step towards honoring the exemption these veterans are due, and providing some additional, and well deserved, tax relief," Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, I-Sag Harbor, was quoted as saying in a statement from Thiele’s office Thursday.
The state exemption law is not mandatory, Thiele noted. Rather, it gives the governing bodies of villages, towns and counties the option to adopt the exemption. It does not affect school and special district taxes.
Thiele and LaValle introduced the legislation Monday, with only a week and a half left in the legislative session to adopt it. Thiele said they will push to have it voted on in time, but it may have to wait until next year. Either way, he was confident it would garner support. “We have an excellent chance to get it passed,” he said.