The Role of 421-a during a Decade of Market Rate and Affordable Housing Development
The purpose of the 421-a tax exemption program, known in its most recent iteration as “Affordable New York,” is to encourage new housing construction by alleviating property taxes on the added value that comes with new development. Affordable New York will sunset in June 2022, and its future has been a source of much public debate. This brief takes a close look at development under various versions of 421-a during the last decade. It also examines the housing stock created under the current iteration of the program, Affordable New York. In addition, it examines the take-up of 421-a, the geography of development, and the types of units created with 421-a according to affordability and number of bedrooms. Understanding the recent impact of the program over the last decade is important for policymakers, stakeholders, and advocates as they consider the future of the program.
The Latest Reform Proposal for the 421-a Program
This report analyzes the potential impact of the most recent reform proposal for the 421-a program on housing development in New York City, which is currently under consideration by the New York State Legislature. In evaluating the proposal, the report finds that the proposed 421-a program’s increase in tax exemption exceeds the additional affordable housing benefit by $2.6 to $5.7 million for a 300-unit building. The report also finds that the higher tax break for developers may support a 10-18% rise in hard construction costs without affecting long-term financial returns.
Selling the Debt: Properties Affected by the Sale of New York City Tax Liens
This data brief sheds light on the process of tax lien sales in New York City, which affected over 15,000 properties and roughly 43,600 residential units between 2010 and 2015.
It finds that most tax liens in New York City eligible for sale are sold and generate substantial revenue for the city; between 1997 and 2015, the city raised more than $1.3 billion from the sale of tax liens. However, the city also has the power to remove liens eligible for sale from the lien sale list. The report also describes the characteristics of properties with liens sold in New York City between 2010 and 2015, including the property type, their location, and the outcome following the lien sale.
The Latest Legislative Reform of the 421-a Tax Exemption: A Look at Possible Outcomes
This report explores the possible impacts of the new 421-a legislation on residential development in New York City’s neighborhoods. The legislation has set in motion three possible outcomes; the outcome should be determined in December 2016. Through financial modeling, this study details the effect each outcome will have on production of housing in different parts of the city. We find that the expiration of the 421-a benefit would likely lead to a disruption in the supply of housing by market rate builders, while a revised program without any increase in construction costs could result in the development of more rental units in many parts of the city compared to what the existing 421-a program would have created.
The Challenge of Rising Rents: Exploring Whether a New Tax Benefit Could Help Keep Unsubsidized Rental Units Affordable
The bulk of New York City’s housing stock that is affordable to low-income households is in multifamily buildings that receive no government subsidy to maintain low rents. Therefore, rising rents threaten the future affordability of this critical source of low-rent housing. The report considers whether the city could offer a benefit to protect affordability in this stock, and examines the feasibility of such a program for building owners and the city. The policy brief is third in the five-part series, Housing for an Inclusive New York: Affordable Housing Strategies for a High-Cost City. See the press release or read the key findings.
Give Credit Where Credit Is Due: Overhauling the CRA
The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) is in need of a major overhaul. Since the CRA was enacted in 1977, and since the last major rewrite of the regulations more than 15 years ago, much about the financial services industry has changed. This chapter discusses why the regulatory system needs to be redesigned to allow for more regular and timely updates, allowing more rapid responses to what is working and what is not. By being more amenable to continuous improvement, the CRA should be more open to innovation and experimentation given the greater opportunity for making midterm corrections. This chapter starts with a brief overview of the CRA and its successes. It then outlines some ways to facilitate more regular updating of the CRA regulations, followed by a review of a number of ways to increase the effectiveness of CRA in helping to stabilize and revitalize low-and moderate-income (LMI) communities.
NYC Housing 10 Issues Series #9: 421-a Property Tax Benefit
Offering tax breaks to real estate developers may incentivize the construction or preservation of affordable housing, but such subsidies can also deprive the city of much-needed revenue. As the city faces significant budgetary challenges, policymakers must ensure that tax subsidy programs like 421-a are structured as efficiently as possible. The NYC mayor could offer to cap the property tax on properties with the 421-a tax exemption who maintain 20 percent of their units as affordable, but this may not maximize city property tax revenue while remaining attractive to property owners. This brief explores the tradeoffs of such a program.
The #NYChousing series, published in 2013 prior to the New York City mayoral election, identified 10 key affordable housing issues that were likely to confront the next mayor of New York City. The series aimed to inform the public about the policy tradeoffs by providing an objective analysis of the pros, cons, and questions related to key housing issues facing New York City. How the incoming New York City mayor would choose address the city's housing challenges in an environment of increasing needs, declining federal support, and a strengthening real estate market would have an enormous effect on the livability, diversity, and character of the city.
Shifting the Burden
Some of New York City’s most valuable properties in its highest-cost neighborhoods are significantly and persistently undervalued, according to Shifting the Burden. The report identifies 50 individual co-ops in 46 buildings that were sold in 2012 for more than the New York City Department of Finance’s estimate of the market value of the entire building. This undervaluation has significant consequences for the distribution of tax burdens in New York City.
The Legal Salience of Taxation
Many tax enforcement regimes incorporate taxpayer-initiated administrative procedures for adjusting tax liabilities. Using a novel dataset, this article examines the property tax appeals process in New York City and finds that the salience of the property tax (its visibility or prominence to taxpayers) has a large effect on the probability of appealing. I find that differences in salience across property owners, unwittingly induced by government policy and private actors, effectively shifts the property tax burden toward certain mortgagors, who are more likely to be racial minorities, foreign-born, and working families with children.
Distribution of the Burden of New York City’s Property Tax
The analysis from the 2011 State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods report finds that owners of New York City’s large rental apartments are subject to a higher effective property tax rate than owners of one- to three-family homes, and bear a disproportionate share of the city’s overall property tax burden. Condominiums and cooperative apartments also are subject to much lower effective tax rates than rental properties with similar characteristics.