Some co-op and condo owners have one month to prove their residency before the city takes away their tax abatement benefits.
According to co-op leaders, a large number of residents have received a notice in the mail from the city’s Department of Finance (DOF) stating they have until April 1 to verify their apartment unit is their primary residence in order to quality for their full abatement.
“Our records show that this unit is not your primary residence, so your abatement will be phased out,” the notice reads.
But co-op presidents said residents who received the letter have been predominantly living in their apartments for decades. The notice, leaders said, stems from the department’s poor record keeping.
“In true fashion, this is the Department of Finance’s inability to get their act together,” said Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village Owners. “It doesn’t surprise me that the [DOF] shows themselves to be an agency that is shockingly out of touch with the average taxpayer.”
The abatement loss could cost residents from $300 to $1,000, co-op presidents said.
According to Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, a DOF system glitch allows abatement credits to be transferred to new co-op owners when a previous owner moves out. Many times, the new owner is not eligible for those abatements but still benefits from them.
DOF spokesperson Owen Stone said that happens because there are no deeds involved. The transfer of credits is not reversed until co-op boards report the discrepancies to the department.
In regards to the abatement notice, Stone said the DOF is “working to ensure that those who qualify for the benefit receive it.”
Residents have four weeks from when the form was mailed to complete and return it, he said.
Friedrich said he fears residents who are away for the winter will miss the deadline and lose their abatements.