Niagara Gazette

Opinion

May 18, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Breaking down the Lew-Port budget vote

Niagara Gazette — Einstein once said he did not understand our tax system; well, I fear, most of us do not either. I want to share a few facts about your school district and taxes.

Governor Cuomo is advertising no increases in income taxes. This is smoke and mirrors! He has done this by cutting state aid to many agencies like schools. Our Lewiston-Porter school state aid has been cut $9.4 million in the past four years. How has Lew-Port responded? We have cut staff and programs, modified some classes, and changed bus routes, along with many other things to get our expenses down to the amount of income we have to pay for them. This may include up to 41 people losing their jobs this year.

The school board approves a budget; the town and state decide the value of your home. The town then sets the tax rate. A little complex, yes! For fear that I might write something in error, I will just give you an example of might happen to a hypothetical senior home owner:

• A home is appraised at say $125,000, however, the State Equitation Board may decide it is worth $150.000. That would be what you will be taxed on. In Lewiston, your tax would be about $2,360.

• Most homeowners and seniors will qualify for the Star exemption. This is available to all homeowners regardless of age, but you have to apply for it. The amount varies from town to town, in Lewiston it will be $24,600. This will drop the taxable property value to $124,400.

• A senior over 65 may qualify for the Enhanced Star which in Lewiston is worth $51,910. All seniors with an income of less than $79,600 based on income information taken from the 2011 tax year. In this calculation, income means federal “adjusted gross income” minus the “taxable amount” of total distributions from individual retirement accounts or individual retirement annuities (IRA’s). This exemption drops the taxable property amount to $72,490.00

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