Allow Scarsdale Residents To Pay School Taxes In Two Installments
8 May 2020
Dear Scarsdale Village Mayor and Trustees,
We, the undersigned, are Scarsdale Village residents and taxpayers. We respectfully request that you, acting as the Town Board of Scarsdale, immediately pass a Resolution implementing a two equal-installment, penalty and interest-free, payment plan for school property taxes.
Our school property taxes comprise over 60% of our enormous property tax burden. The average homeowner in the Scarsdale Union Free School District pays about $20,000 each year in school property taxes. Currently, the Village/Town, as Receiver of Taxes, bills property owners in the Scarsdale Union Free School District one time for the entire amount of the owner’s annual school property tax liability at the end of August. The school property tax bill is payable in one lump sum on September 1, and if paid during the month of September, no penalty or interest is owed. Late payments, however, incur steep mandatory statutory penalties.
Paying our school taxes in one lump sum during September imposes a substantial cash flow burden on many of our residents, especially during this year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. and world economies have imploded; unemployment has rocketed to over 20% nationwide in just two months from record low levels pre-crisis. Our residents are suffering terribly financially, losing their jobs, savings, and businesses. We need all the help we can get.
The Village Board, acting as the Town Board, is authorized by law, to implement an alternative payment program for our school tax -- one which will provide us with much more financial flexibility and which is far less punitive to our residents. Westchester County Code, Section 283.311, expressly allows the Village Board of Trustees (acting as the Town Board of Trustees) to pass a Resolution authorizing the Receiver of Taxes to accept from taxpayers two partial payments, in equal installments, of the school taxes due. Under the County Code, the Resolution shall prescribe the first equal installment to be paid in September and the second equal installment to be paid in January. Unless the installments are paid within the months that they are due, the taxpayer must pay the mandatory interest and penalties set forth in Westchester County Code, Section 283.221 – i.e., 2% during the month of October; 5% during the month of November; 7% during the months of January and February; and 10% thereafter.
Importantly, most municipalities in Westchester already have implemented this two equal installment school tax payment plan many years ago. 70% of our taxpayers pay our property taxes directly (not via escrow). By paying in two equal installments, we can substantially improve our cash flow – we don’t have to cough up 100% of our annual school tax by September 30 – we can remit the remaining 50% four months later -- with no interest and no penalty. This is an easy decision for the Village Board to make and a big win for Scarsdale residents at virtually no cost to the School District and little cost to the Village. Please, Mr. Mayor and Trustees, acting as the Town Board, simply adopt a Resolution implementing the two-installment school tax plan immediately so that it takes effect this year when we need it desperately. Thank you.
*All words in this petition that are underlined, have a link embedded to the source of the information.