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NYS stopping tax lien sale, halts collection of medical & student debt owed to state

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Fri, Sep 4th 2020 04:00 pm

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Letitia James released the following statements regarding the governor's executive order stopping New York City's annual tax and water lien sale in an effort to protect homeowners as the COVID-19 public health crisis continues.

"COVID-19 caused enormous disruption in the daily lives of New Yorkers, including their ability to keep a roof over their head," Cuomo said. "The tax and water lien sale was delayed in May in recognition of this hardship, and given the current economic climate it makes sense to delay it again so that homeowners aren't facing further uncertainty. This measure is part and parcel with our ongoing efforts to help New Yorkers weather the ongoing public health emergency."

"As the economic impacts of COVID-19 rage on, the tax lien sale puts an unnecessary financial burden on New York's homeowners, and especially communities of color," James noted. "It is the responsibility of government to relieve the financial hardships of the people wherever possible, not exacerbate them. I am proud that my office worked with Gov. Cuomo and his team to take immediate action to protect hardworking homeowners during this stressful time."

A press release said, “As New Yorkers are still facing significant financial burdens due to the pandemic, including these homes in the tax lien sale will only exacerbate the economic crisis and result in homeowners – mostly in communities of color – potentially losing their homes during this time.”

James also announced the state would renew, for the sixth time, an order to halt the collection of medical and student debt owed to New York that has been specifically referred to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for collection for an additional 30-day period.

In response to continuing financial impairments resulting from the spread of the coronavirus, the OAG will renew orders Sept. 5 through Sunday, Oct. 4. After this period, the OAG will reassess the needs of state residents for another possible extension. Additionally, the OAG will accept applications for suspension of all other types of debt owed to the state of New York and referred to the OAG for collection.

The OAG collects certain debts owed to New York via settlements and lawsuits brought on behalf of the state and its agencies. A total of more than 165,000 matters currently fit the criteria for a suspension of state debt collection, including, but not limited to:

√ Patients that owe medical debt due to the five state hospitals and the five state veterans’ homes;

√ Students who owe student debt due to State University of New York (SUNY) campuses; and

√ Individual debtors, sole-proprietors, small business owners and certain homeowners who owe debt relating to oil spill cleanup and removal costs, property damage, and breach of contract, as well as other fees owed to state agencies.

The temporary policy has also automatically suspended the accrual of interest and the collection of fees on all outstanding state medical and student debt referred to the OAG for collection, so New Yorkers are not penalized for taking advantage of this program.

New Yorkers with nonmedical or nonstudent debt owed to the state of New York and referred to the OAG may also apply to temporarily halt the collection of state debt. Individuals seeking to apply for this temporary relief can fill out an application online or visit the OAG’s coronavirus website to learn more about the suspension of payments. If an individual is unable to fill out the online form, they can also call the OAG hotline at 800-771-7755 to learn more.

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