New York City gives $78 million worth of tax breaks to dead people
IF YOU thought negative gearing was unfair, get a load of this.
An audit of New York City’s finances reveals the Big Apple’s administration lost out on a stunning $78 million ($US59 million) in revenue over the past six year — mostly because of property tax exemptions given to senior citizens who had passed away.
“This is just an irresponsible way to approach tax exemptions that are sorely needed by elderly New Yorkers,” Comptroller Scott Stringer, who released the findings, told the New York Post.
“This is money we could have used to build affordable housing, or to help people who needed it the most. To improve our homeless facilities, where 57,000 people slept in shelters last night.”
“With $US59 million, I calculate the city could have hired 700 new police officers,” he added.
The audit analysed a program called the Senior Citizen Homeowners’ Exemption (SCHE), which reduces property taxes for homeowners over 65 who earn $US37,400 or less a year.
People who qualify for that program also qualify for the Enhanced School Tax Relief (STAR) Exemption, which exempts the first $US62,200 of the value of a home from school taxes.
Stringer said the city’s Department of Finance is supposed to check every two years whether homeowners are still eligible for the exemptions — but went 10 years without requesting owners to certify they were alive and eligible.
“I cannot believe for the life of me that over 10 years, the city never wondered what happened when someone died and the tax break continued,” Stringer said.
As a result, 3246 city properties were improperly given the SCHE exemption, resulting in a loss of at least $US35,976,029 ($A46.6m). Those same properties also benefited from the STAR exemption, which amounted to the loss of another $US10,460,540 ($A13.3m), the audit said.
On top of that, 71 properties owned by corporations were given tax exemptions that they weren’t eligible for as well, resulting in yet a third loss of $US1,377,622 ($A1.8m) between 2011 and 2016.
During those same years, the city also lost out on $US11,176,036 ($A14.9m) because 573 properties with four or more units were given excessive exemptions.
“Believe it or not, there’s still more,” Stringer said. “What we see as we peel the onion back is we are getting closer to $US100 million ($A133m). We need them (the Department of Finance) to stop this immediately.”