Home improvements exemption

Oswego County officials say only 17 properties have taken advantage of a local law that, since 2015, has allowed for gradual property tax exemptions on home improvements. Interested property owners should contact their local assessor.

A local law adopted in 2015 allows Oswego County homeowners making home improvements to gradually ease into the property tax increase they may face over the course of several years, and some county officials are shocked that so few people have taken advantage of it.

Legislator Shane Broadwell, R-Oswego, said the gradual tax exemption is “one of the best-kept secrets” for Oswego County property owners.

“These things are there to help (property owners) progress and get things done,” said Broadwell. “We need to let people know about this.”

Betsy Knapp, director of the Oswego County Real Property Tax Office, said she was surprised to see that only 17 properties have used the exemption since its implementation.

“It was a surprise to me,” said Knapp.

To be eligible, the property must be used as a residential building for one or two families. The value of the construction project must exceed $5,000 and must not include ordinary repairs or maintenance, according to county documents.

The exemption applies to 100 percent of the increase in assessed value for the first year, then gradually declines to 12.5 percent in the eighth year. It is limited to $80,000 in increased assessed value, based on the increased market value due to reconstruction or improvement projects, according to county documents. After eight years, property owners then must pay the full tax burden on the improvements.

In order to qualify, the greater portion of the building, measured by the square footage, must be at least five years old. The exemption only applies to property that is owned by private individuals.

Knapp said the exemption will expire in 2019.

The city of Oswego has also followed suit, said Broadwell, adopting a similar schedule and making an exemption available for Oswego city property taxes.

Paul Stewart, director of the Oswego Renaissance Association (ORA) — a nonprofit that helps facilitate neighborhood-wide home improvement efforts in targeted parts of the city — called the law a “smart move” on the part of both the city and county of Oswego.

“That is fully in line with our mission,” said Stewart. “That’s an outstanding program.”

For more information, residents should go to the Oswego County Property Tax website at http://oswegocounty.com/rpts.shtml or contact their local assessor.

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