City Council Members Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) and Finance Chair Daniel Dromm (D-Queens) are introducing legislation tomorrow, July 29 at the stated City Council meeting that will make the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate (OTA) permanent through City law.
The office was established in 2015 as an advocacy and service arm of the New York City Department of Finance (DOF) by Director Jacques Jiha and has assisted New Yorkers in the six years since.
Passage of this legislation would make New York the second city in the country to codify such an office, joining a number of states and a federal office.
“It’s a no-brainer that we need this office to be permanent in our City. Too many New Yorkers are often spread thin financially due to the high cost of living in our City. The office of the Taxpayer Advocate is literally saving homeowners from getting into debt or falling behind on taxes by advocating for them successfully, “said Kallos. “New York City residents cannot afford for a future mayor to do away with this office on a whim to save money. So the best way to prevent that is to put it in the law.”
The OTA provides New Yorkers seeking tax relief a venue to seek assistance. The office employs advocates that listen to the taxpayer’s position which could lead to investigation or advisement.
The office is also able to identify and recommend solutions for systemic issues within the agency that cause difficulties to taxpayers and also provides a resource to policymakers and other stakeholders. This, in turn, can lead to a better long-term tax policy.
OTA currently employs eight people with $754,579 operating allocation according to the recently passed FY22 Adopted City Budget.
The office has reported on significant results for New York City homeowners, businesses and non-profits. Since April 1, 2016, OTA intervention has resulted in $15,633,506 in refunds, $22,687,936 in abatements, plus $22,709,531 in corrections, for a total of $61,030,973 in funds returned to taxpayers as of tax year 2020-21.
The proposed legislation establishes that the office has been beneficial for the public. It ensures its continued existence as an official office governed by the DOF.
Both the DOF and Mayor’s office said they will review the legislation before issuing any comments.