The city’s unpopular occupancy tax was enacted in 1976 and repealed the next year.
But nearly four decades years later, it’s still causing headaches for homeowners, who must prove the $10 tax was paid on their home when they try to sell it.
The Common Council is trying to make it easier for people to deal with the hassle and hopes that in a few years, the tax’s burdensome legacy will be stamped out.
At the time the tax was enacted, residents could pay it right away or wait until their home was sold and pay it at the closing.
Owners of homes who have not paid the tax face $40 in interest and a lien on their property.
The Council is set to adopt legislation today that allows homeowners to receive proof that the tax was paid by using the city’s website, instead of having to make an in-person visit to City Hall.
In addition, the proposal drops a $3 fee homeowners were charged to create a receipt.
The legislation also asks the city’s Law Department to write a law that would cause the liens associated with the occupancy tax to expire in 2018.
Real estate brokers and attorneys have asked the Council to reform the system, which affects city home sales, said South Council Member Christopher P. Scanlon, who is sponsoring the measure.
“The occupancy tax lien simply needs to find a way to go away,” wrote real estate attorney Keri D. Callocchia, in an essay published in February in The Buffalo News. “Its continuation is a symbol of inefficient government.”
The tax only brings in approximately $10,000 per year, and likely costs that much to collect, said Patrick J. Curry, spokesman for the Comptroller’s Office.
The tax affected 100,000 homes in the city when it was levied, and since then all but 1,587 homes have paid the tax.