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Suffolk County is asking the governor to approve a 45-day waiver of penalties and interest on second-half property taxes for Suffolk property owners suffering economic hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The waiver is an “effective extension” of the deadline to July 15 and will be available to both individuals and businesses, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said today.

“It gives taxpayer some more time while our economy is shut down,” Bellone said.

Individual property owners who have experienced a 25% or more reduction in income and businesses with under a $1 million annual net profit that have experienced a 50% reduction of income due to the COVID crisis will be eligible for the relief.

The relief is not available to mortgage lenders that hold money escrow for property tax payments. Those entities are still required to pay the property taxes due on May 31 (which are payable June 1 this year since May 31 is a Sunday.)

Property owners seeking the temporary relief will not be required to submit proof of a loss of income. They will simply be required to sign a form attesting to their situation, Bellone said.

The county’s municipal finance working group devised the tax relief plan, taking into consideration the various tax years and tax deadlines for various municipalities and taxing districts in the county.

Bellone said the tax relief plan is being sent to the governor with a request that he sign an executive order authorizing the extension.

The Federal Reserve Board’s decision to lower the population threshold for counties to access the Municipal Liquidity Facility lending program made the extension viable for Suffolk County government, Bellone said. Without access to funding from that program, the county would not be able to meet its obligations, because the county does not receive any revenues from the first half property tax collections, Bellone said. He thanked Rep. Lee Zeldin and Sen. Charles Schumer for pressing U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to lower the program eligibility threshold for a county from a population of 2 million to a population of 1 million.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.