Tax break a good idea

Tax breaks are not always a good idea. Some amount to little more than payback for politically connected groups.

However, when tax breaks help those who desperately need it – such as flood victims trying to put their lives and homes back together – they deserve consideration.

State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara spoke at a news conference last week to announce a proposal that could assist people whose homes were damaged in June’s flooding.

Floodwater devastated parts of Fort Plain that month, damaging hundreds of properties.

The politicians, whose districts include Montgomery County, announced they introduced legislation, titled the Mohawk Valley and Niagara County Assessment Relief Act, aimed at helping property owners who were affected by flooding.

Under the proposal, municipalities in a number of counties – including Montgomery – have the option to revise property values based on the percentage of property value lost due to flood damage. Property owners then would be able to seek a reassessment, and assessors would be authorized to request assessments of seriously damaged homes be based on the property’s after-flood value. The assessments would be subject to review by the local Board of Assessment Review.

Tkaczyk noted that under the law now, property owners are forced to pay taxes based on the pre-flood condition and value of their property.

Property taxes have, in a sense, always had a basic element of fairness to them: The more valuable someone’s property is, the higher his tax bill.

It is unfair that someone, while trying to spend money rebuilding his or her home, would be forced to pay a full-value tax bill solely because a new assessment has not been done.

The state Legislature should pass the proposal; it may help many hurting homeowners get back on their feet.