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Assemblyman: Don’t tax storm rebuilding supplies

Thursday, January 31, 2013
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— A local assemblyman is joining his colleagues in a call for New York state to stop lining its pockets by taxing building supplies that flood victims are buying to recover from natural disasters.

Pete Lopez, R-Schoharie, gathered with a coalition of lawmakers this week calling for the state government to grant sales tax exemptions to victims of Hurricane Sandy and tropical Storms Irene and Lee.

Sales tax revenue remained strong in Schoharie County following Tropical Storm Irene despite its crippling impact on businesses and homes, much of which was attributed to sales of building supplies required for post-flood recovery.

The state received half of that sales tax at the same time — and Lopez in a release Thursday said that’s money state shouldn’t be collecting.

“We hope that the governor and legislative leaders agree that the state should not be profiting on the devastation caused by these storms,” Lopez said in the release.

Lopez and the coalition, including downstate Assembly members Nicole Malliotakis, R-East Shore, Brian Curran R-Lynbrook, and Assemblyman William Colton, D-Bensonhurst, are among legislators pushing for three breaks for flood victims, including the sales tax on rebuilding supplies.

The group also wants the state to provide an exemption from sales tax and registration fees on vehicles flood victims buy to replace cars destroyed by the disasters.

“These monies are a windfall that was not expected and would not deprive the budget from any funds or affect taxpayers. It’s simply the right thing to do to help the countless residents with rebuilding their lives,” Lopez said in the release.

Legislators in 2011 sought similar benefits for victims of Tropical Storm Irene, including calls for credits to be paid to victims for the state’s portion of sales tax collected on rebuilding supplies.

Such a break never materialized.

The state did allow local governments the option to re-assess properties that sustained severe damage following Irene and Lee, and many communities opted in, providing property tax refunds to some flood victims who paid taxes on destroyed homes based on pre-flood values.

The tax and fee exemptions sought are in addition to $21 billion for rebuilding, disaster recovery and mitigation for disaster victims Gov. Andrew Cuomo is recommending for the 2013-14 state budget.

 
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