As the COVID-19 epidemic impacts Westchester families, County Executive George Latimer has proposed County legislation to ease the financial burden now on County residents.  Latimer has introduced legislation amending the Westchester County Tax Law to authorize towns in Westchester County to waive penalties for the late payment of County taxes, County district taxes and assessments until July 15, 2020.  The provision would be based on hardship determination presented to the town, and does not cover town taxes.  This would allow a penalty free additional 76 days to pay County taxes.

Latimer said: “People in this County are feeling the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many have lost their jobs.  I have said many times that the County is in a ‘freefall’ and residents are experience the same thing.  This deferment of taxes for two months is a way to buy some time for the residents here to keep themselves afloat until this pandemic passes. I want them to be focused on staying healthy, keeping a roof over their head and food on the table – the rest can wait.”

The hardship must be caused by the public emergency relating to COVID-19.  Penalties under this provision could be waived for a two and one-half month period including the months of May and June and up to July 15.  If taxes are not paid by July 15, the 5 percent penalty would begin to run as of July 16.

A group of town officials will help develop the criteria to qualify for the hardship determination and maintain a list of taxpayers within their jurisdiction qualifying for the hardship determination.  Hardship determinations can be based upon objective criteria related to the COVID-19 pandemic such as: loss of employment, illness, closure of a business or other loss of income or revenue. 

The July 15 date coincides with the extended deadline to file New York State and federal income taxes. Under the proposed legislation no town is required to offer the temporary waiver of penalties upon a hardship determination and may choose to opt-out of this law.