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N.Y. Tax Cap Passes! REALTOR® Advocacy Fuels Victory

October 1, 2011

The highest-profile REALTOR® advocacy effort in the New York State Association of REALTORS®’ 106-year history resulted in a victory for property taxpayers in June.

With rising property taxes attacking the American dream of home ownership, the New York Association of REALTORS® launched the “Cap that Tax” campaign in April. Calling for the enactment of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2 percent property tax cap, the multifaceted campaign spurred New Yorkers and REALTORS® to action by asking them to encourage their legislators to vote for the cap.

Because residential property owners have no organized voice in the state capitol, the 51,000 members of the New York State Association of REALTORS® took up the cause and used every resource to make the cap a reality. Property tax relief has been a priority for NYSAR for many years, dating back to the first introduction of a tax cap proposal in 1994. But with a new governor in office who had campaigned on the issue of property tax relief, NYSAR’s leadership team, directors, and legislative committee leaders all recognized the unique opportunity to gain passage of the cap. The association’s board of directors approved the use of issues mobilization funds to support a multifaceted campaign along with financial support from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

As leadership and staff continuously lobbied on the issue, NYSAR began the first phase of its statewide campaign by launching television, radio, online, and print advertising to spread the message that it is time to “Cap that Tax.”

The advertising, developed with the assistance of an outside consultant, confirmed what most New Yorkers and REALTORS® already knew from first-hand experience: state property taxes are among the highest in the nation and have grown at twice the rate of inflation and salary growth. The message that 8 out of 10 New Yorkers supported the property tax cap rang loud and clear for legislators to hear.

New Yorkers were asked to visit TaxCapNY.com to learn more about the issue and write to their representatives in Albany to either thank them for supporting the tax cap or ask them to support it. Thousands of e-mails were sent and, ultimately, every member of the New York State Legislature received e-mails asking them to vote for the tax cap.

In addition to reaching out to the media covering Albany’s political scene, the group sent press releases and letters-to-the-editor following the advertising campaign. This resulted in numerous articles about the campaign and editorials supporting NYSAR’s position.

NYSAR also partnered with NAR by calling New York state home owners to give them the opportunity to speak directly with their legislators about the need for a property tax cap. Members received calls for action asking them to write their legislators, resulting in more than 300 REALTORS® conveying the “Cap that Tax” message personally during REALTOR® Lobby Day in late May, when NYSAR President Nick Gigante, participating in the governor’s press conference with legislative leaders, announced a tax cap deal had been reached.

In the late hours of the last day of New York’s legislative session on June 24, lawmakers passed a 2 percent property tax cap, taking the first step forward in reining in the state’s property tax burden. Governor Cuomo subsequently signed it into law.

—By Duncan R. MacKenzie, CEO, New York State Association of REALTORS®