Homestead Tax Program Moves Ahead In Southampton Town

Southampton Town Hall

The New Year began with the Southampton Town Board getting newish ideas — those proposed by a committee convened to look at tax assessments — underway. At their organizational meeting on January 5, members voted to authorize Supervisor Jay Schneiderman to take the next steps toward providing property tax relief for year ’round residents. He’ll prevail upon state representatives to carry enabling legislation that will allow for the creation of a “Homestead” tax exemption that shaves $50,000 off the assessed value for all qualified residential properties that are primary residences for homeowners.

Additionally, the board authorized the supervisor to seek enabling legislation that would permit the implementation of a 5 percent cap on any increase on the taxable assessment of residential properties in the Town of Southampton. The cap would not run with the land, should ownership change.

Over the summer, members of the Town Board mulled recommendations by a town-appointed reassessment advisory committee during an August work session. The proposals could see tax savings of as high as $400 per year for year-round residents of the Hampton Bays School District, and increases for ineligible second-home owners as high as $775 in the Eastport-South Manor School District.

According to State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., who would carry the request for enabling legislation to Albany, the proposal shifts the tax burden away from primary residents to second-home owners, and to businesses, who would end up paying higher taxes.

Confronted by soaring assessments, in 2019 the Town Board convened the committee with an eye toward finding strategies to lessen the impact on local homeowners. Supervisor Jay Schneiderman noted that some longtime residents may have properties whose market values have surged as the real estate market ramped up — and their tax assessments as well — even though they could be on fixed incomes.

At the same time, the supervisor put a freeze on tax assessment increases while the details were worked out.

“We saw certain areas of town going up very quickly, but a lot of people … they couldn’t sustain large jumps … so we needed to take a pause,” the supervisor said. The town placed a two-year freeze on market trend assessments in 2019.

The Homestead program is similar to the statewide STAR program. The New York State School Tax Relief program provides an exemption from school taxes for owner-occupied primary residences.

The exemption application process would mirror the process for obtaining a STAR exemption. About 16 percent of the properties in the town are year-round residences that would qualify for the exemption.