The Northern Westchester Examiner

Galef Hosts Forum on State Taxes in Cortlandt

We are part of The Trust Project
Galef leads the meeting at Cortlandt Town Hall.

State Assemblywoman Sandra Galef (D-Ossining) hosted a forum at Cortlandt Town Hall last week that focused on state tax returns and services provided by the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance.

The main speaker was Thomas Mattox, a Harvard University graduate who was appointed as commissioner of the Department of Taxation and Finance by Governor Andrew Cuomo in January 2011.

“There is a softer side to the department,” Mattox told about two dozen audience onlookers who questioned the commissioner primarily about the sometimes difficult to understand state income tax forms.

Mattox conceded tax laws in New York were complicated but said instructions online for taxpayers who file electronically were easy to follow. He said the large increase in electronically filed returns has increased the state’s ability to detect fraud.

He said 10 million state tax returns were filed in 2011and 96% of the $90 billion that flows through the department is collected “voluntarily.”

“It is important to act quickly when our department engages you,” Mattox advised.

In 2009, the Office of Taxpayers Advocate was created. More than 2,000 cases have been handled through that office, with 70% of challenges resulting in benefits to taxpayers. The Earned Income Tax Credit has also produced more than $1 billion to taxpayers.

Mattox said widespread tax reform was not likely to occur in the near future.

“It’s very difficult to do broad tax reform because the state needs the money,” he said. “The time to do reform is not during a recession but during a boon. When you simplify things, certain people and groups will benefit and certain people and groups won’t.”

Galef serves as the real property tax chair in Albany. She supported the Tax Cap Bill last year that limited the amount local tax entities could increase property tax levies annually at 2%.

“I voted for this legislation because I believe it is the first step to help get property taxes in line with other states, provide tax relief to New York residents and bring New York back to a level of competitive housing and job markets,” she said.

Galef has also proposed legislation that would mandate property reevaluation every four years.

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.