Monday, December 12, 2011

Tax Foreclosure Hardship Exemptions Broadened

The Suffolk County Legislature has approved a law amending the allowable tax foreclosure hardship exemptions within the county. The additional exemption is for those grandparents providing monetary support for a grandchild currently residing with them in the household affected by the tax sale.

Context is needed to provide more of a background of what this actually means, and how it impacts the local community. Pursuant to the Suffolk County Tax Act, the county is “authorized to take real property for unpaid taxes”, though the homeowner has a chance to keep his or her home through a redemption process. If the property is not redeemed within a six month window after the county tax deed is recorded, a homeowner’s only recourse is to apply for a hardship exemption extending that window.


Before this new law was passed, only an illness to the applicant, the applicant’s spouse, parent, or child (including one that is adopted) was an acceptable hardship. By adding grandchildren to this list, the legislature has shown both a surprising awareness of its community’s changing familial structure, as well as the ability to efficiently address and correct an issue with current statute.


Current economics dictate that more and more families need to help each other out, generally resulting in the family unit containing multiple generations under one roof. Grandparents let their children move back into the family home, this time bringing along grandchildren in the process. Other times, a parent may not be in the picture at all. The grandparent then becomes the de facto parent, but does not qualify for the same exemption a biological parent would under the old law.


While it should be noted that only new applications for hardship under the law include the provision for grandparents, the Suffolk County Legislature made a simple and logical change to an existing law that stands to benefit many in the community.