Bill Would Level Playing Field for Businesses

Senator James Skoufis (D-Orange County) has introduced legislation (S.2774) that would allow local school districts and governments to collect property taxes from private corporations that occupy tax-exempt federal or state land like West Point. Doing so would offset some of the tax burden on all other duly-paying property owners in the community, including small businesses, while providing new funding to our schools and municipalities to provide services.

Private businesses like the Thayer Hotel that lease and operate within the bounds of West Point – federally-owned, tax-exempt territory along the Hudson River – for example, hold a competitive advantage over comparable businesses outside West Point’s gates that pay full property taxes.

“The cost of entrepreneurship in New York is already staggering for your average mom-and-pop small business,” said Senator Skoufis. “Our goal here is to ensure that our Main Streets aren’t carrying an inequitable tax burden when their competitor just up the block isn’t contributing to our schools, infrastructure, and local police. We must close this unjust tax loophole.”

Over 80% of all land within the Town of Highlands, where West Point is located, is either owned by the state or federal government, making it fully or partially tax-exempt. Should Senator Skoufis’ legislation be signed into law, over $20 million in new local revenue would be collected statewide.

“I applaud Senator Skoufis for his continued work to support our local governments and drive down taxes for those in Orange County,” said Town of Highlands Supervisor Bob Livsey. “Highlands is uniquely impacted by existing federal and state property tax exemptions, and this legislation would ensure our business community thrives while key municipal services are supported.”

Skoufis has long advocated for closing property tax loopholes as a way to benefit our local community. In 2021, he secured a permanent provision requiring the state to pay property taxes on Goosepond Mountain State Park, accounting for roughly $100,000 in new annual revenue for the towns of Chester and Blooming Grove. Previously, the tax bill for every park under the jurisdiction of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission–except for Goosepond– had been paid by the state.

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