From the Times Union:
A plan that would require nonprofit organizations -- from private colleges to public authorities -- to pay property taxes is being put together by a high-ranking lawmaker as Democrats who dominate the Senate develop a budget that will come with some real estate tax relief.
"It's our No.1 priority," said one senator headed for a private budget conference of Senate Democrats Tuesday.
Three Senate officials said a budget resolution to be released soon would likely include at least parts of a circuit-breaker bill introduced by Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, and quite possibly the whole package. The component of Klein's bill most likely to be part of the plan calls for a $290 million STAR program for low-income senior citizens. The circuit breaker Klein envisions would give property taxpayers a credit or rebate based on their income level.
While Klein's proposal would cost money -- Senate officials estimate $1.2 billion -- Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, D-Bronx, said he is researching a revenue-raising proposal. It would require nonprofits to pay into the real estate tax base so that tax relief would be spread through a community. He said he wants to include public authorities owned by the state in the group of currently tax-exempt entities that would have to share the real estate tax burden.
"Have nonprofits contribute at a time of national sacrifice," Espada said. "It's not such a bad idea." A person familiar with his plan said he is expected to introduce a bill next week. It is projected to raise hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Espada plan would likely require nonprofit property owners, including private colleges, to pay taxes. He is proposing some exemptions, such as for small nonprofits. It is unclear whether his bill would cover the nonprofit health services network he runs in the Bronx.
The idea follows a plan developed by Richard Ravitch before he became lieutenant governor. He came up with a payroll tax for all New York metropolitan-area employers, including nonprofits, as a new revenue stream for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
It sounds interesting until you realize that the MTA is a public authority that owns property and that many public authorities are funded by taxes. So...