Council Member Joe Borelli (R-South Shore) has introduced legislation that would see New York City opt-in to a New York State initiative which allows municipalities to include Cold War veterans in their veterans’ property tax exemption. Borelli’s bill has been co-sponsored prior to introduction by Council Members Treyger, Vallone, Ulrich, Deutsch, and Minority Leader Matteo.
Under current law, only veterans who served during certain designated military conflicts are eligible for a property tax exemption in New York City. Since 2016, New York State rules have allowed for each municipality in the state to “opt-in” to include veterans of the Cold War to receive the property tax exemption given to other veterans of the government’s designated conflicts. Borelli’s Intro. 617, which can be viewed here, will compel the city’s Department of Finance to opt-in and allow for all honorably discharged veterans of the United Stated military to receive the tax benefit.
During the Cold War there were many active combat engagements involving US troops, including the Iranian hostage rescue-attempt known as Operation Eagle Claw, the 1983 Beirut Marine Barracks bombing, and numerous expeditions into Latin America and the Caribbean. Many US military veterans of this period and others have expressed their disbelief that the government would draw lines in the sand which only serve to divide those who have served in different conflicts and imply a greater value for the service of some as opposed to others.
Supporters of Intro. 617, which can be viewed here, have underscored that their stated goals are to restore equity and ensure that, in New York City, it is unacceptable to perpetuate a tiered system for veterans of the United States military whereby value is assigned based upon when they served and the politics of the time. The law would take effect immediately, rectifying the issue without further delay or hardship for those affected.
“The fact is, as a city, we have been excluding women and men who have served their country and endured tangible danger because the engagements they’ve served in are not designated a certain way by the government which would allow them their due benefits,” said Council Member Joseph Borelli, Minority Whip. “There is no-one who would dispute the risks or dangers faced by the participants of these engagements. The correction made by this bill is long overdue, and I’m proud of the early support I’ve received for this from colleagues representing districts across the city, including Minority Leader Steve Matteo.”
“The NYC Veterans Alliance was proud to be a key advocacy voice in last year’s expansion of the Alternative Tax Exemption and Eligible Funds Exemption for veterans to at last include exemption from NYC school taxes. We strongly support Council Member Borelli’s bill to opt the City in to the State’s Cold War Veterans exemption. Veterans of the Cold War era are just as deserving of this benefit as veterans of other eras, and and it is past time to expand the City’s veteran tax exemptions to include them. We look forward working with Council Member Borelli and other sponsors to ensure that veterans voices are heard as the Council considers this legislation,” said Kristen L. Rouse, U.S. Army Veteran and Founding Director of the NYC Veterans Alliance.
“Last year we dramatically expanded the property tax exemption veterans can receive by including the school portion of the property tax, thanks to legislation I authored and my colleagues enthusiastically supported. This year, we must build on that success by expanding the eligibility of this exemption to include those veterans who served during the Cold War period. These men and women are just as deserving of this benefit as their fellow veterans, and it is past time that we as a city recognize their service and sacrifices. I am proud to co-sponsor Minority Whip Borelli’s legislation, and look forward to working with him and our colleagues to get this done,” said Minority Leader Steve Matteo.
“As Chair of the Veteran’s Committee, I’m proud to join with my colleagues in sponsoring legislation that will right a wrong committed against the many men and women who proudly served in the US military during the Cold War. Every veteran’s service to our country should be valued equally, whether or not they faced combat during their time in the armed forces. Many of our New York City veterans are struggling to support their families, find employment, and deal with expenses unique to veterans. The heroes of the US military bravely faced down danger to protect our liberty; and we have an imperative to do our part to make their lives easier. Providing property tax benefits to this classification of Cold War veterans will do just that, and I thank Councilman Borelli for his leadership and my colleagues for their partnership in introducing this bill,” said Councilman Chaim Deutsch, Chair of the Veteran’s Committee.
“As a proud advocate for our nation’s heroes, I am thrilled to sponsor this bill, which would expand New York City’s veterans property tax exemption to Cold War veterans. Although it would be impossible to fully repay the debt we owe our veterans for their service, our government should make every effort to commemorate the sacrifices of our brave men and women in uniform,” said Councilman Eric Ulrich. “I would like to thank my fellow colleagues – Council Members Joe Borelli, Steven Matteo, Paul Vallone, Chaim Deutsch and Mark Treyger – for supporting this long overdue legislation.”
“Expansion of the Veterans property tax exemption to include Cold War Veterans will have an enormous impact for those who served our armed forces. Many veterans living in private homes, co-ops and condos have often expressed the difficulty of getting by on fixed incomes while dealing with escalating property taxes,” said Council Member Paul Vallone.
“All of our veterans have made sacrifices for our country, and it’s crucial to make sure they are all treated with the same dignity and respect,” said Council Member Mark Treyger. “Extending a property tax exemption to include veterans who served in all military engagements throughout the duration of the Cold War is the right thing to do. I’m proud to join Council Member Joseph Borelli to take this important stand in support of our veterans.”