Capital New York Mayor taps head of tax commission by Sally Goldenberg

Capital New York
Capital New York
Mayor taps head of tax commission
Sally Goldenberg
07/13/2015

Mayor Bill de Blasio has selected Ellen Hoffman to become president of the New York City Tax Commission.

De Blasio submitted Hoffman's name to the City Council on Friday, according to a document obtained by Capital. If approved, she would preside over a commission that decides on tens of thousands of individual property tax appeals that are potentially worth billions of dollars each year.

Hoffman would replace Glenn Newman, who retired last month.

She previously served as a commissioner on the Tax Appeals Tribunal and has served as acting president since Newman left.

De Blasio has yet to fill three vacant slots on the six-person commission

A mayoral spokeswoman, Amy Spitalnick, said he is finalizing those nominations. The mayor is responsible for appointing the six part-time commissioners, who each serve six-year terms.

In March, Spitalnick told Capital the vacancies had "virtually no impact" on the commission's productivity and that the mayor was close to naming their replacements.

Spitanlick said Hoffman "brings extensive experience, having dedicated her career to serving the people of New York City and spending the last 25 years working to ensure the tax code is implemented fairly for all New Yorkers." She also thanked Newman "for his years of leadership."

In 2014, the commission received 52,221 requests for appeals from city property owners disputing their assessments or other aspects of their tax bills. After a series of hearings, It ended up offering reductions on 9,326 of those appellations, with 7,861 accepted, according to its annual report. In total, the commission yielded nearly $521 million for taxpayers.

Property taxes are one of the must lucrative sources of revenue for the city, bringing in approximately $20 billion a year in recent years.

City Councilman Ben Kallos, who chairs the government operations committee, has repeatedly raised the issue of the vacancies at public hearings.

"I have identified years-long vacancies for half of the commissioners at the Tax Commission at multiple preliminary budget hearings and I have sought and extended a call for applicants at these public hearings," Kallos told Capital in an email.

The commission, rarely in the spotlight, received some attention following the indictment of former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver earlier this year.

Silver was indicted on charges that he allegedly received corrupt payments from two law firms where he served as counsel. One of those firms, Goldberg & Iryami, seeks real estate assessment reductions on behalf of its clients through the Tax Commission.

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