Nearly 16,000 Big Apple property owners owe the city $555 million for taxes, emergency repairs and water bills, according to newly released city records.
But that figure is expected to rise dramatically in the face of the coronavirus, as large property owners are already fretting that they won’t be able to pay what they owe the city by the next deadline of July 1.
The most at-risk properties are apartment buildings, as hundreds of newly unemployed New Yorkers fall behind on their rents. Also hard hit will be owners of the scores of hotels and retail and entertainment facilities that have been without business for weeks already.
Comptroller Scott Stringer has calculated the city will lose between $4.8 billion and $6 billion in receipts from all kinds of taxes, depending on when businesses start to reopen.
The current 60-day lien list released to me by the city’s Finance Department includes the former New York Post building on South Street, which is now a storage facility.
The property pays over $1.6 million each year in city taxes, but owes over $8,425. If you owe $1,000 for over a year, the property is placed on the lien list. If the lien is then sold, more interest and fees accumulate.
The mistake here occurred when the company paid the “second half” January 2019 bill using the same amount as the July 2018 “first half” bill, leaving $6,729 unpaid, plus interest.
Unfortunately, this happens to many property owners because rather than setting tax rates in the spring, the City Council waits until the fall. The lag creates a different amount due for January than in July.
If the January bill is higher, but owners simply repeat the July payment, it causes an underpayment that begins to accumulate interest.
The property owner is now aware of the charges and will bring its balance up to date.
The “tentative” deadline to pay off a lien or enter a payment agreement is May 14. But that could change with the coronavirus throwing every city agency’s planning out of whack, so watch the city’s property lien Web site for updates.
Brooklyn Council member Brad Lander’s 39th district owes the most overall, with bills adding up to $36.7 million for 300 properties, the lien list shows. But most of that money is owed by just one Cobble Hill HDFC — a low-income, 16-unit rental at 15 Strong Place.
This building has the dubious honor of topping the city’s delinquent taxpayers by owing $28.7 million — 940 percent more than its $3 million value. Of this, $507,000 is for overdue water bills.
Staten Island’s 49th district led by Council member Deborah Rose has 689 properties that together owe $10.8 million.
The 31st District in southeast Queens led by Donovan Richards tops the list for water bills, with $5.33 million owed out of $12.7 million in overall charges across 590 properties.
With $8.78 million due, Brooklyn’s vacant Council district 37 has the highest emergency repair charges, with a total of $23.7 million owed by 793 properties. Of that, $9.6 million is for property taxes.