Testimony on Intro. 6880: Extension of Eligible Funds Tax Exemption

On November 15, 2017, the NYC Veterans Alliance presented testimony in support of Intro. 6880, a bill proposing to extend the current Eligible Funds Tax Exemption for veteran property owners to include school tax, which would bring this older program into alignment with the Alternative Tax Exemption expansion passed earlier in the year. 

Below is our testimony before the NYC Council:

My name is Kristen Rouse. I served for more than 20 years of combined service in the United States Army, Army Reserve, and the New York National Guard, which included three tours of duty in Afghanistan. I am here today to testify on behalf of the NYC Veterans Alliance, a member-supported, grassroots policy advocacy and empowerment organization serving veterans, servicemembers, and their families across the New York City metropolitan area.

Housing stability, to include affordable housing and home ownership, is a top priority of our membership. Among our membership are veterans who have recently returned to New York from Afghanistan, the Middle East, or other missions across the globe to find a city of rising rents and a market in which a key benefit of their military service—the VA Home Loan—is virtually unusable. Among our members we also have Vietnam veterans who served this country and city decades ago and spent their lives contributing as citizens, leaders, and advocates, and paying their share of taxes—only to find that school taxes, which for decades were never included in their property tax exemption—and have gone up by more than 60% over the last fifteen years. Our older veterans have felt squeezed out from the city they’ve called home. Our younger veterans find the dream of using their VA Home Loan merely a distant aspiration in this increasingly difficult market. NYC simply can and must do better by our veterans and their families.

For these reasons, the NYC Veterans Alliance was a key advocacy voice towards passage earlier this year of Intro. 1304, which extended the Alternative Tax Exemption for veterans to at last include exemption from NYC school taxes. We are grateful for the leadership of Council Member Steve Matteo and this committee in passing the first tax relief for veterans in many years. We also strongly support this new Introduction 6880, which would expand another key tax exemption for veteran homeowners, the Eligible Funds Exemption, to include exemption from school taxes. Although not as widely used by veteran homeowners as the Alternative Tax Exemption, Intro. 6880 would provide needed tax relief to more than 3,000 veteran households in NYC. These veteran homeowners matter, and we urge this committee to take immediate action to pass this bill.

We further urge this committee to consider similar extension of benefits to the Cold War exemption, which eligible veteran homeowners can currently claim directly with the NY State Department of Finance, but not the city. The Cold War exemption should be fully available to NYC veteran homeowners as it is across New York State, and it should likewise include exemption from school tax.

On behalf of the NYC Veterans Alliance, I thank you for the opportunity to testify today. Pending your questions, this concludes my testimony.