State lawmakers take aim at a loophole granting owners of multi-million dollar homes the same tax status as condos

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Most of us have a pretty good idea of what a condominium or townhouse is — it’s a home you own within a multi-unit building. But real estate developers have come up with ways of designating single-family homes as condos and lawmakers say it is unfair.

Assemblywoman Monica Wallace says the unfairness of the condominium loophole allows owners of multi-million dollar mansions to pay the same property taxes as much smaller single-family homes.

How are they condos?

They may be connected by being on the same street, or they have common green space owned by the developer.

Wallace cited the example of Lancaster which has nearly 300 properties designated as condominiums shifting a $600,000 tax burden for county and municipal services onto Cheektowaga, which Wallace says has no condos.

“It is wrong, it is abusive, and it has to stop. If you can afford a million-dollar home you can afford to pay your fair share of taxes on it,” Assemblywoman Monica Wallace said.

Lancaster Town Assessor Rebecca Baker said, “The money is not being lost. The town, the county, the schools, they get whatever tax dollars they need to operate. What we are saying is that $600,000 is now being paid by everybody else.”

Wallace’s bill would shift the authority of deciding whether a home is a condominium from the state to local governments. In some cases, the condo designation can cut the property assessments by 30-to-40%.

Those opposed to the change say developers are responsible for many of the services that would be provided by the local government such as water and sewer lines, snow removal and garbage collection paid by homeowners through their association fees.

Published by WIVB-TV

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