Board Presidents Petition for Tax Relief 90-Day Hold Could Avoid a Cash Crunch

NOTE: The following is content submitted to The Cooperator from a professional contributor, and reflects that contributor's opinions, experience, and expertise. 

I am the president of Glen Oaks Village, the largest horizontal 'garden' apartment residential co-op in New York, with 3,000 families. I am also the founder and co-president of the Presidents Co-op & Condo Council, which is an organization of just under 100 board presidents. I like to think of it as a co-op think tank. The following is an email I sent to my fellow presidents over the weekend of March 21-22, and I have received support from many of them for the measures proposed therein. I have also been in touch with numerous elected officials on this topic, and State Assemblymember David Weprin has since met with representatives in the Governor's and the Mayor's offices to discuss our request. According to him, they will be reviewing it in the coming days as a possible way to protect the liquidity of co-ops and condos.

My message to the Co-op & Condo Council is as follows: 

During these unprecedented times, it is important for our organizations to maintain liquidity and cash. Although this economic turmoil will be temporary, we can expect tens of thousands of hardworking folks to find themselves unemployed. This means they may not be able to meet their monthly shareholder maintenance obligations, which as you know are used to fund the operations of our buildings. This may cause a dangerous cash crunch for many co-ops. Many co-ops also rely on flip taxes to help subsidize and keep maintenance affordable for their shareholders. We are seeing a significant downturn in sales, which is immediately impacting these flip taxes and creating a double-whammy cash crisis. 

The largest quarterly expenditure we have is our NYC Property Taxes, which are due at the end of March. For most of us, this is a huge chunk of our liquidity. I am proposing that we refrain from making these payments for 90 days, similar to the hold that Governor Cuomo has ordered the banks to place on home mortgage payments, and what the IRS has done with tax filings. These expenses have not been eliminated, but simply pushed back to a time when we hopefully will have emerged at the other end of this crisis.  

I am preparing a letter to be sent to the NYC Department of Finance in lieu of our community's taxes. The letter will spell out what we are doing, and why we are doing it. It will state that we acknowledge that these taxes are payable, and that we expect there to be no interest or penalty charges assessed during this unprecedented economic emergency. This is a bold step, but we are in an unprecedented period of time, and these steps are necessary to protect our co-ops from massive, unforeseen arrears.

As President of Glen Oaks Village, I am prepared to do this. Will any other co-op President join me in what I am hoping will be a mutual effort? If so, I encourage you to contact our state representatives and urge them to declare a 90-day hold on property tax payments. In the interim, I will be in contact with our elected officials to bring pressure on the State Government to support this move.

Bob Friedrich is President of Glen Oaks Village in Queens. 

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