Tax Exemptions

January 27, 2023

The Katonah-Lewisboro School District, consistent with New York State laws and with the practices of other public schools in our region, allows tax exemptions for certain subgroups of taxpayers in our community. These exemptions reduce the taxes paid by eligible individuals within those subgroups and then redistribute the reductions in the form of increases to other taxpayers. Recently, New York State and Westchester County have adjusted these laws to allow Boards of Education to consider increases and other changes to their exemption practices. Our Board of Education is now looking for input from our community (by way of a survey linked here and below) before reaching a decision on whether to change any of our District’s exemption practices.

At the December 1, 2022 Board of Education meeting, our Board had an initial conversation about potential exemption changes. By way of background, in 2015, our then Board of Education, along with many other school boards in our region, adopted a tax exemption for Veterans as allowed by New York State and Westchester County (this exemption is known as the Alternative Veterans Exemption). Certain eligible veterans can have their property taxed at a reduced amount. This exemption law allows school boards to determine the level (within a certain range) at which veterans’ taxes are reduced. The State and County have recently allowed for an increase in the levels of veterans’ exemptions, at the discretion of the local school board. For more information, you can read about the State’s exemption law here. You can view our Board’s December conversation here. And you can view the presentation made to our BOE here.

In addition, the State and County have recently increased the allowable exemptions for eligible senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Exemptions at the previously allowed levels have been in place in our district at least since 2007. Unlike the veterans’ exemptions, there is no decision for our Board to make about the exact level of exemption to be allowed. In this case, it is more simply a decision between keeping the exemption at the present level or moving it to a higher level. Like the exemption for veterans, these exemptions are also redistributed to other taxpayers.

And finally, there is also an exemption allowed for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers. This exemption has been in place in our district since 2007. Although there is no change to the amount of this exemption, there is now an allowable change to the length of service required of firefighters and ambulance workers before they become eligible for the exemption. Boards may reduce the required length of service from five years to two years. As with the above exemptions, these exemptions, too, are redistributed to other taxpayers.

Our Board will have further discussion on all these exemptions at its meeting on February 2. In the meantime, the Board is seeking input from our families by way of this survey. Please complete it no later than end of day, Wednesday, February 1. We ask that each family complete the survey just once. Results will be shared with our Board as soon as possible.