The Town of Ossining has been working closely with County Executive George Latimer, our County Legislator Catherine Borgia and other Towns and municipalities throughout Westchester to address what we know is a pressing need for many to reduce out of pocket expenses at this difficult time. As a result of our collaboration, we are pleased to announce a number of relief opportunities available to taxpayers who have not already made payment for their Town and County taxes, for both those who have experienced a specific economic hardship, and even for those who may not be able to say that is so or who do not meet specific criteria. These relief programs apply only to the Town and County Taxes due on April 30, 2020, at this time. Please note, there will be no refunds made to those who have paid their Town and County taxes already.
Please note that most of the information contained in this e-mail was provided to Town government yesterday afternoon. As with so much these days, this information is subject to change based upon further direction, input from, and/or collaboration with our partners in State and County government.
As a result of Governor Cuomo issuing Executive order No. 202.22 on April 20, 2020, specifically requested by the County Executive, there is a temporary suspension of Sections 283.91 and 283.221 of the Laws of Westchester County, as well as Section 1512 (1) of the Real Property Tax Law of the State of New York. This Executive Order has authorized the Westchester County Executive to allow municipalities to opt into a program to eliminate any late fees assessed to individual taxpayers (residential or business) for payments received up to and including July 15, 2020, providing those taxpayers can meet a test of economic hardship as defined by the County.
These are the guidelines the County Executive has set to establish that hardship certification:
- A residential taxpayer must pay their property taxes directly, not through a bank or mortgage escrow account; and
- That taxpayer must be enrolled in the STAR program and fully qualified for STAR benefits; and
- That taxpayer must complete a single-page form attesting to their status of hardship, based on loss of wages, closure of business or other similar loss related to the COVID-19 outbreak. The form, with a sworn signature, constitutes their assertion of need.
Business owners must make a similar assertion that their business has closed or lost substantial revenue due to the COVID-19 outbreak; owners of rental units of six or fewer may also make claim for this hardship status.
Taxpayers will need to submit their signed certification form to qualify, as long as they are, in fact attesting to their own eligibility. Certification forms must be submitted with payment by July 15, 2020. No additional documentation is required. We ask that you do not attempt to submit your certification form prior to when you are able to make payment. Certification forms are NOT due by April 30, 2020. We will have the certification form available for you shortly, and more details as well.
Additionally, the Westchester County Board of Legislators passed legislation last Friday which we understand the County Executive will be signing, which will offer reduced late fees to anyone who pays their taxes by July 15. So even if you are not able to qualify for the complete waiver of these fees via hardship, you will still be able to take advantage of fees that have been reduced by 75-80% until that date. More specifically, the penalty for payment in May has been reduced to 0.5%, penalty for payment from June 1 through July 15 has been reduced to 1%. On July 16, we will go back to regular schedule of penalties.
We are so pleased to be able to offer many opportunities to reduce out of pocket expenses for our community at this time and are grateful to the Board of Legislators for their hard work as well as to our County Executive and Governor for their continued leadership throughout this difficult period in our history.
Finally, we would like to reiterate that if you are in a position to pay your taxes on time, please do so. Paying your taxes before the deadline will help Town and County government continue to provide the necessary services we have all come to rely upon during these difficult times. Nearly 70% of the Town's revenue relies on Real Property Taxes, and the taxes you pay this April will directly fund the Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corps and other vital emergency services and infrastructure. We ask you to please look out for your neighbors that are unable to pay at this time, and do your part to help our community as a whole. Tax payments for those not requesting a hardship waiver can be made online, all payments can be made via mail to 16 Croton Avenue, Ossining NY 10562, or dropped in the dedicated mail slot at the Ossining Post Office. The general deadline for tax payments without penalty has not been extended and remains April 30, 2020 for those who do not meet the criteria for financial hardship as set forth by the County Executive.
We hope you and your family remain healthy and safe during this extremely difficult time.
On behalf of the Town Board: Dana Levenberg, Town Supervisor
Holly Perlowitz, Receiver of Taxes