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State Senator Floats Plan To Give Tax Relief To Strapped NY Renters

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A state senator is proposing a plan to offer tax relief to New Yorkers who pay more than 30 percent of their income in rent, according to the Daily News.

Brian Benjamin, a Democrat whose district includes Harlem, Washington Heights and the Upper West Side, said he is seeking to introduce legislation in New York modeled after a federal bill introduced by U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris.

Last year, Harris rolled out the Rent Relief Act, which would provide a refundable tax credit for individuals paying more than 30 percent of their pre-tax income on rent, including utilities. How much one gets back depends on income. For example, under Harris’s plan, those in the lowest bracket, making less than $25,000 a year, would be entitled to any amount paid in rent that was over 30 percent of their income.

Those paying more than 30 percent of their income on rent are considered “rent-burdened,” and according to a recent survey, at least 44 percent of all renters are paying at least that much.

“Rents for our citizens continue to climb and increase beyond their ability to pay,” Benjamin told the Daily News. “We continuously hear about how tenants are rent burdened and pay is not keeping pace. This is a way to provide some relief.”

On Monday, a press spokesperson for Benjamin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Benjamin’s plan would cap out for those who earn more than $125,000 a year.

Policy experts, however, have criticized such subsidy proposals for failing to address the main problem for renters in cities like New York, which is a shortage of housing.

“Throwing money at demand-side subsidies when you have constraints on supply can actually make the problem worse, because you’re just going to drive up prices that much further,” Jenny Schuetz, a researcher at the Brookings Institution, told Curbed in June. “It’s a misguided approach to the problem to think that you can just give people more money.”

In September, Benjamin, a former real estate developer and reality TV star, filed papers with the New York City Campaign Finance Board to explore a 2021 run for city comptroller.



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