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Federal workers on LI may get property tax extension, under new bill

Robert Brodsky
Jillian Guthman and Sen. Jim Gaughran

Thousands of Long Island federal employees affected by the 35-day partial government shutdown could soon have additional time to pay their property taxes.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to sign legislation, co-sponsored by Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport), that provides federal workers statewide who were furloughed or went unpaid during the record-long shutdown and their spouses a 90-day extension to pay their property taxes.

At a news conference Thursday in Huntington, Gaughran said while the shutdown ended Jan. 25, many federal workers are still putting the pieces back together and deciding which outstanding bills to pay first.

"They are trying to figure out what to balance," Gaughran said, urging federal workers to take advantage of the extension. "What not to pay and what to put off. Eventually they will get some retroactive money, but this has really hurt them in the interim . . . . In this way, they know they will have this little cushion."

The State Senate and Assembly, both controlled by Democrats, passed the extension earlier this month and Gaughran said Cuomo is expected to sign it. A Cuomo spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

For their residents to take advantage of the extension, Long Island municipalities, including Nassau and Suffolk counties as well as towns, cities and villages, must each pass a resolution to opt in.

"Paying property taxes is a challenge for just about everybody," said Huntington Receiver of Taxes Jillian Guthman, who has proposed a resolution opting the town into the extension. "Given the fiscal challenge that our furloughed federal employees incurred with our temporary government shutdown, this legislation is so important and so progressive."

The deadline for homeowners to pay the first half of general property taxes in Huntington was Jan. 10, so the extension would apply only to federal workers who had sought a delayed payment.

Other Long Island municipalities have later deadlines. For example, homeowners in the Town of Oyster Bay and the City of Glen Cove have until Feb. 10 to pay their taxes.

An extension will be granted automatically if a municipality opts in, officials said. But affected federal employees must proactively notify their municipalities' tax collector that they are seeking an extension and provide evidence of their employment status.

The extension, Gaughran said, does not apply to federal contractors or to federal workers who pay their property taxes through their home mortgage.