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Policy report says $1.8 billion could have gone to schools if not for IDA tax incentives

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  • Staff Report 

A new report released by the Washington D.C. policy center, Good Jobs First, claims that hundreds of New York public schools are being underfunded by tax breaks that benefit private businesses.

According to the report, at least $1.8 billion of local property taxes that would have gone to school districts have instead gone to Industrial Development Agencies.

IDAs are organizations set up to promote the economic development of local communities by providing tax subsidies to corporations as an incentive to move into a specific area.

However, the report claims that allowing companies to avoid property tax payments has resulted in school districts across the state losing millions of dollars in revenue per student, especially in districts with a larger proportion of students of color.

New York school districts are typically funded by a combination of sources, with local property taxes making up a significant portion. However, when these taxes are redirected to incentivize private developers, school districts are left without funding for services such as mental health counselors or support staff.

The report by Good Jobs First recommends eliminating IDAs, although the legislation introduced by Democrats would only prohibit IDAs from giving tax abatements to private businesses that would otherwise go towards schools. The alternative to this is a higher property tax rate for New Yorkers to make up for the lost revenue.