B.B. Schools changes up senior tax exemption policy
Public hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 13, invites feedback on increasing income limit for tax breaks
February 7, 2024 at 10:09 p.m.
Senior homeowners in the Blind Brook School District may see an adjustment on their property taxes after the Blind Brook Board of Education amended the district’s senior tax exemption law on Jan. 23.
The adjustment, which was approved by the board unanimously after the public hearing was hosted and closed that night, impacts the seniors who now qualify for the property tax exemption granted to those aged 65 and over with limited income.
Currently, seniors may receive up to a 50% school tax deduction if their annual income totals $29,000 or less. The sliding scale system sees a 5% decrease in that discount for every $1,000 up to $32,000. Then the discount decreases another 5% per $900 until the income limit of $37,400 is reached, which sees a 5% markdown in school tax bills.
With the change in the local law made in January, all taxable IRA distributions are now counted as income. According to Laurie Baum, the Blind Brook assistant superintendent of finance and facilities, it may cause some residents over the age of 65 to see an increase in their property tax bill, as it would adjust where they fall on the sliding scale for the exemption.
On the other hand, some senior citizens may be allowed to offset their income with certain medical expenses, per the other change to the policy made that night. Baum explained that seniors will now be allowed to deduct medical and prescription drug expenses that were not covered or reimbursed by their insurance from their total income. This decrease may qualify them for a larger property tax exemption.
Baum said that after receiving notification from the state that these changes could be made, she made the recommendation to the board.
“My feeling was all income should be treated equally,” she said of the decision to propose adjusting what is considered as revenue. “Regardless of where it comes from, income is income.”
She added the other change may offer peace of mind to some seniors. “Medical expenses can be considerable, and this can ease some of that for seniors.”
While the changes made in January may impact residents by redefining income, another adjustment that may be coming soon could also shift the scale, giving more seniors access to benefits.
The district may further adjust the senior tax exemption law, Baum said, by increasing the policy’s income limit. At the upcoming Blind Brook Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 13, a public hearing will be held to increase that barrier.
The proposed changes may see the tax exemption law match the amendment made by both the Town of Rye and the Port Chester School District in 2023.
The suggested annual income limit raise would see a 50% discount for seniors who make $50,000 or less. The sliding scale would then work the same way as it’s currently designed, reaching an upper limit of $58,000 for a 5% deduction in school taxes.
Should the board vote to pass the measure, the law would take effect in the next fiscal year, during the 2025-2026 tax season.
Baum acknowledged that the higher income ceiling would affect other taxpayers by shifting the burden, as they would see an increase in their bills to make up the difference, but as of Wednesday, Feb. 7, she was unable to estimate what that impact might be.