NYC's sloppy records gave $59.2M in tax breaks to dead people

New York's elderly people qualify for the Senior Citizen Homeowners' Exemption and the Enhanced School Tax Relief Exemption, but the city's Finance Department is supposed to solicit confirmations of eligibility every two years to make sure that the people receiving the tax-breaks are still alive — a duty the department failed to perform for a solid decade, costing the city nearly $60M in lost revenue.

In addition to generous tax-breaks for the people living in the homes of deceased senior citizens, New York City also improperly gave tax breaks to corporations that owned property in the city.

The sums involved would close any of a number of NYC's budget holes.

From fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2017, the agency improperly credited $59.2 million in tax breaks to 3,890 ineligible properties, according to the audit.

Of those properties, 3,246 received 17,354 exemptions after the homeowner died, which amounts to a loss of at least $35,976,029 in tax revenue from fiscal year 2012 through fiscal year 2017.

Those same properties were also wrongly credited with an Enhanced STAR exemption after the homeowner's death, adding up to another $10,460,540 in lost revenue.

Seventy-one properties owned by corporations received 307 exemptions for which they were not eligible—a loss of at least $1,377,622 from fiscal year 2011 through fiscal year 2016.

And 573 properties with four or more units had the SCHE applied to all units in their buildings instead of just the one that qualified. The city ended up losing out on at least $11,176,036 in tax revenue from fiscal year 2011 through fiscal year 2016, according to the audit.

City Gave $59.2M in Senior Citizen Tax Breaks to Dead People, Comptroller Says
[Madina Toure/Observer]

(Image: All Saints Church, Highweek from the graveyard, Smalljim, CC-BY-SA)