For pricey homes, taxes lowest in Park Slope, Carroll Gardens

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Park Slope and Carroll Gardens are two of the wealthiest communities in Brooklyn, yet homeowners there have the lowest property tax rate in the city, according to a report released this week by the city’s Independent Budget Office.

But don’t blame the gentrifiers for their disproportionately low tax rate — blame state law, said George Sweeting, a deputy director of the IBO and a Park Slope resident.

In 1981, the state passed new property tax laws that capped tax increases for homeowners at 6 percent a year, or 20 percent in five years, even if a home’s market value skyrockets.

“So, in a neighborhood like Park Slope, where market values have grown strongly, taxes have not [kept pace],” said Sweeting.

Some Park Slopers reacted to the news with sheepishness.

“Frankly, it doesn’t sound fair,” said Lydia Denworth, who is the president of the Park Slope Civic Council, but was speaking as an individual homeowner.

“I have always thought our property taxes seem awfully low,” she added.

“We owned a building in Philadelphia, and we paid an equal amount of taxes as we do here, and this house is worth five times as much.”

But it’s not just wealthy neighborhoods like the Slope that are getting off easy. Brownsville has the second-lowest tax rate, followed by Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant.

It’s a trend reflected citywide.

“While one-, two- and three-family homes comprise 41 percent of the market value of property in the city, these homes generate 14 percent of the total property tax levy; commercial property comprises 16 percent of market value and generates 43 percent of the tax levy,” read the report.

Much of that tax burden gets passed on to tenants.

Co-op and condo owners, whose properties are taxed at a higher rate than private houses, also have their tax increases capped under the 1981 law.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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