WPCNR THE FEINER REPORT. By Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner. August 30, 2018:
Earlier this year the NYS Legislature authorized local governments and school districts to accept charitable donations in lieu of tax payments so residents would be able to get a tax deduction. The town will be collecting school taxes for the school districts (which are independent of the town) in September.
The new state law requires school districts that choose to opt into the law to pass a resolution in order for the town to accept charitable donations.
I sent a few letters to each of the school districts within the town. None of the school districts in Greenburgh will be accepting the donations for the September tax payments.
Last week the federal government took action steps to make it harder for residents to get the deductions.
I also contacted fellow Town Supervisors in Westchester. School districts throughout the county have also decided not to implement the charitable tax deduction option. Only two communities, to the best of my knowledge, have signed on so far: Scarsdale and Rye Brook.
RESPONSES FROM SCHOOL DISTRICTS WITHIN GREENBURGH…IRVINGTON, EDGEMONT, HASTINGS
GREENBURGH CENTRAL SCHOOLS: consulted with counsel (Judd Siebert from Keane & Beane) and shared background information and his advice with the board. Board members requested that we discuss this issue at our 9/4/18 BOE work session. It is likely that we will wait until next year to decide whether we will implement this. However, I will confirm this after 9/4.
HASTINGS SCHOOL DISTRICT
Per your request of August 14, our board president Doug Sundheim asked me to send you the statement that the Hastings-On-Hudson Union Free School District emailed its families regarding the school district’s position on accepting charitable donations instead of tax payments.
It is posted on our website at: https://www.hohschools.org/cms/lib/NY01913703/Centricity/Domain/4/8.7.18%20Charitable%20Donations%20In%20Lieu%20of%20Taxes.pdf
This is in response to your letter dated August 14, 2018 related to the acceptance of charitable donations instead of tax payments. The district consulted with our counsel and per his advice and after a discussion at our August 21, 2018 School Board meeting, the Board has decided to wait for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to provide final guidance before taking any action.
EDGEMONT SCHOOL DISTRICT
Following up on our conversations, the Edgemont School Board voted to continue to evaluate the potential for a charitable contribution in lieu of taxes option. We are keenly aware of the potential importance of SALT deduction work-arounds. Indeed, the board members are a local taxpayers ourselves. However, we do not yet have sufficient information to decide whether we can make this option available, and want to work with you to figure out the following:
1. Potential Legal Exposure: The opportunity to implement a new program arises in a very unsettled area of law that pits state/local authorities against federal authorities. We need to determine whether proceeding with a program exposes the Town or school district to potential liability, now or in the future.
2. Mechanics: What is the process by which a charitable contribution program would be created and implemented? What does the school need to do? It is complicated to create a new program from scratch — and it is essential to do it correctly.
3. Burden & Cost to the District: Whether and how any charitable contribution program unduly burdens Edgemont administrators and/or imposes costs on the school district certainly will affect its appeal.
4. Best Practices: To the extent other communities have implemented programs, what are the things we can learn/copy?
Please let me know what next steps will be to advance the discussion. As you and I discussed, I realize there is no way to answer these questions in time to get on track for a September roll-out. But, perhaps, we can target December (in advance of the 2nd tax payment deadline).
HAVEN’T RECEIVED RESPONSES FROM THE OTHER SCHOOL DISTRICTS WITHIN THE TOWN BUT PRESUME THEY ARE ALSO NOT AUTHORIZING THE CHARITABLE DONATIONS.
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