Cheektowaga approves tax exemption for major home improvements

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. – The Town of Cheektowaga has adopted a new law that will relieve some of the property tax burden on homeowners who would see a higher tax assessment after altering or improving their homes.

The tax exemption works on a sliding scale over a period of five years.  The homeowner will see an exemption of 50% in year one and then the exemption is reduced by 10% each year over the next five years.

Any new project that raises a property’s assessed value by $10,000 would qualify.  Town of Cheektowaga Tax Assessor Jill M. Oxley says repairs or ordinary maintenance like adding new windows, siding, or a roof do not qualify.

“Those things don’t increase your assessment.  What increases your assessment is if you were going to do a total rehab on the house where then you were doing siding, windows, kitchen, bathroom,” said Ms. Oxley.

An example she gives is that of a young family who purchased their fixer upper home from the auction.

The family would meet with the Assessor’s Office to have the home reassessed to a lower value before any work would begin.  The work would be performed, and the Town will reassess the property upon completion.  

“This will kind of help them defer some of those costs for the first five years that they own it,” added Ms. Oxley.

If they leave before the five years, the exemption is not transferable to the new homeowner.

Supervisor Diane Benczkowski sees this as a positive step that affords younger families the opportunity to move into Cheektowaga’s older housing stock and to transform it for the better.

“It helps the neighborhoods.  We have some neighborhoods that have a lot of two family homes, so this also pertains to them or young buyers who want to buy a two family because they do get income from the other unit,” said Ms. Benczkowski.

Growing families who would be forced out of their capes due to space issues could also use this law to add a second floor to their homes.

“Over the long run, it does increase the tax base which is a good thing because it’s a little incentive to get people in and to do the work on their houses,” said Ms. Oxley.

The tax exemption is limited to a one, two, or three family residences five years or older and the maximum exemption cannot exceed $150,000.

Contact the Assessor’s Office at 716-686-3440 for more information.