July 7, 2020
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha announced today the postponement of the annual tax lien sale until September 2020, as the city continues its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We must build a fair and equitable recovery for the working people of our city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Postponing the lien sale will give some relief to those struggling to make ends meet, and more time for New Yorkers to apply for our hardship programs.”
“While New York City begins to rebound from the effects of COVID-19, many property owners continue to face serious financial challenges from the effect of the virus,” said Department of Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha. “Postponing the sale allows property owners to better assess their situations and to apply for assistance or a payment plan, if necessary.”
The lien sale is administered by the NYC Department of Finance, which sells overdue property taxes, water and sewer charges, and other property charges to a non-profit trust. The agency sends out four warning notices to property owners starting three months prior to the sale, alerting them that the property is at risk of being on the lien sale list. More than 80 percent of owners pay the full amount owed, enter into payment plans, or obtain an exemption that removes them from the at-risk pool. DOF also advertises at risk properties and conducts extensive outreach to property owners at risk of having their liens sold, often partnering with community groups and elected officials to reach as many property owners as possible.
The sale was originally scheduled to occur in May 2020, but it was previously postponed until August 2020 as the City focused its efforts on the COVID-19 outbreak.
Property owners who are facing hardships making their property tax payments can take advantage of several existing DOF programs. These include exemption programs to lower the amount of taxes owed, standard payment plans, or a new Property Tax and Interest Deferral (PT AID) program, for those who qualify. DOF also provides a monthly property tax billing service to facilitate budgeting for property owners billed on a quarterly or semi-annual basis. More information on those programs can be found on the agency’s website.
“Postponing the lien sale is exactly the right thing to do. As our city reels from the economic hardship caused by COVID-19, we need to do everything we can to protect all those without the ability to pay. In many cases, non-profits or religious institutions may not have even gotten their mail in months and so are unaware of the impending sale,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.
"This lien sale postponement will bring additional relief to the many New Yorkers who have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic," said NYC Council Finance Chair Daniel Dromm. "Many NYC homeowners are still struggling because of lost wages, sick family members and the many other hardships brought on by the public health crisis. As someone who advocated for the initial lien sale postponement, I am pleased that Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Jiha are halting enforcement measures in order to help New Yorkers in need."
"The tax lien sale threatens one of the most significant sources of intergenerational wealth for people of color at a time when working families are facing unprecedented challenges. This postponement is a welcome development and a step in the right direction. It is incumbent upon us to do all we can to protect vulnerable homeowners and maintain the integrity of black and brown communities across the City," said Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Co-Chair of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus.
"In light of the ongoing pandemic, postponing the annual tax lien sale is the right decision," said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik. "I urge anyone who is having difficulty making payments to take advantage of the assistance programs that the city offers."
“While New York State on PAUSE was established to save the lives of New Yorkers, it has also created financial hardship for many families across the five boroughs,” said Council Member Paul Vallone. “Postponing the annual tax lien sale at a time when many New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet will provide much needed relief to those families facing serious financial pressure during these challenging times.”