Canton town, village mull increases in property tax breaks for improving homes
Thursday, January 23, 2020 - 5:30 pm

BY ADAM ATKINSON
North Country This Week

CANTON – The town and village boards are mulling increases in property tax breaks for private property owners who make improvements to their residences and low-income seniors.

The village board of trustees has scheduled a public hearing to increase exemption levels for capital improvements and raising the low-income range for the senior tax exemption. The hearing will be held at the municipal building on Feb. 18 at 6:20 p.m.

The Canton town board discussed the exemptions at their meeting earlier this month, but tabled the issue to be sure to align their changes with those the village makes to its local tax code.

Canton Town and Village Assessor Cindy Brand is recommending the town and village increase the property tax exemption for capital improvements from the current level of up to $50,000 closer to the $80,000 designated by the state Real Property Tax Law.

At the village board meeting on Jan. 21, Village Attorney Gerald Ducharme said the state’s Real Property Tax Law sets a cap for the exemption of $80,000 in improvements, but municipalities can set their own levels at any amount up to that.

This exemption applies to improvements to one- and two-family dwellings, occupied by the property owner. The current dollar value of the improvements must be between $3,000 and $50,000, and the building must be at least 5 years old.

The tax break is 100 percent of the increase in assessed value that was sparked by the improvement.

The exemption decreases by 12.5 percent each year for seven years from the year of improvement.

Brand said 5 property owners in the town and 4 in the village are currently receiving the exemption under the $50,000 level for capital improvements.

“I would like this to be advertised to the public. I don’t think everyone knows about it,” said Brand.

Brand is also recommending the village increase the income range for property tax exemptions for low income seniors from the current range of $11,700-$19,199, to the federal low income guidelines of $11,490 to $22,865. The percentage of exemption is as much as 50 percent at the low end of that scale decreasing gradually to about 10 percent at the high end of the range.

At the town board meeting on Jan. 15 Brand said currently only about 40 seniors take advantage of the low-income exemption.

“I don’t think anyone is going to argue with (the proposed exemption increases),” said Canton Village Mayor Michael Dalton at the meeting.

To apply for the exemptions, contact the assessor’s office at 315-386-2595, or [email protected]. For more information visit https://cantonny.gov/government/assessor/.

The exemptions to be considered at the public hearing are two of several offered by the municipalities to cut a break to qualified private property owners who shoulder a large portion of the property tax levy here. The town and village of Canton, home of the county seat, features a large amount of tax exempt acreage in the form of two colleges, various non-profits and county land being off limits to various extents for property taxation under federal guidelines.

According to a story published by North Country This Week in 2017, at that time, 66 percent of the village’s assessed property value was not taxed and 49.5 percent of the town’s value was exempt from taxes.

Landowners like churches, government-owned facilities and non-profit organizations who qualify for federal tax-exempt status, don’t have to pay property taxes in all 50 states.

According to records obtained by North Country This Week in 2017 through the county Real Property office, only about 63 percent of the county’s total assessed value is taxed.