Tax debtors beware: New York State is calling you out.
Last Friday, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance went live on its Web site with lists of the top 250 individual and corporate tax debtors in the state.
The individual debtors range from Onandaga County resident Bradley Cooke, who owes $381,509, to Irving Bilzinsky, the former Scores strip clubs owner from Brooklyn who topped out the list with more than $15 million outstanding taxes from between 2007 and 2009. Among businesses, Gui Hong Chen, of Queens, took the top spot with more than $19 million in unpaid corporate taxes.
This week, The Real Deal combed through the newly-public documents to find the worst offenders in New York City real estate.
They include luxury broker Agnes Nolan and her late husband, who owe more than $850,000 in personal income taxes, a subsidiary of real estate investment firm W.P. Carey, which has a warrant out for roughly $464,000, and JPMorgan Chase Bank, which owes upwards of $300,000 (see the full list below).
Perhaps the highest-profile individuals listed were Ponzi-schemer Bernard Madoff (No. 69, with $984,281 in sales taxes) and celebrity fashion photographer Annie Leibovitz (No. 83, with $503,740 in personal income taxes outstanding). Earlier this week, Leibovitz narrowly avoided emergency sales of her four New York homes — three Greenwich Village brownstones and part of the Astor family’s estate in Rhinebeck, N.Y. — when a Los Angeles private equity firm specializing in distressed real estate agreed to take on her millions of dollars in debt.
The intent of the new monthly list, said State Assembly member William Colton of Brooklyn, who pushed to make the documents public, is to “shame” the offenders into paying their due. New York has tens of billions of dollars in uncollected taxes, according to the tax department.
“At a period of time when we’re imposing taxes on struggling families and making cuts to schools, [we] could not continue with business as usual to allow that amount of money to go uncollected from, at many times, ongoing businesses and wealthy individuals,” Colton said.
Colton introduced a bill last spring with State Senator Jeffrey Klein that would require the lists to be a permanent and ongoing project. He said that when Connecticut implemented a similar program, the state was able to collect over $200 million in unpaid taxes.
At No. 85 on the individuals’ list, veteran New York City broker Agnes Nolan, dubbed the “grand doyenne of luxury real estate” and her husband, Richard, who died in 2000, are revealed to have unresolved warrants out for a combined $858,206 in personal income taxes. The warrants date as far back as Dec. 1, 1989 and were issued as recently as Jan. 13, 2010.
Nolan, who recently put her duplex penthouse at 271 Central Park West on the market for $13.9 million, once ran the brokerage Whitbred-Nolan, which helped launch Elizabeth Stribling’s career. Reached at the 4,000-square-foot spread, where she has lived since 1964, Nolan declined to comment on the outstanding taxes.
Carey Asset Management
Also on the state’s list of shame was Carey Asset Management, a subsidiary of real estate investment firm W.P. Carey, which last year entered into a $225 million sale-leaseback deal with the New York Times Company for 750,000 square feet at its new Times Square headquarters. Carey Asset Management has a warrant out for $464,123 in corporate taxes from Dec. 9, 2009, coming in at No. 142 on the state’s list.
A spokesperson for W.P. Carey said the state’s records do not have any substantiation for the charge. “New York State has indicated to the company that they are currently researching [the claim],” the spokesperson said.
While the tax department would not comment on specific companies or claims, a spokesperson said the list excludes taxpayers whose debt is under formal review and that the department investigates any alleged errors in the documents.
Among the 250 business debtors, arguably the most notable is No. 237, JPMorgan Chase Bank, which owes $303,143 in withholding taxes from Dec. 16, 2008 and $6,503 from Feb. 23, 2010.
“We’re looking into this and will work quickly to resolve it,” said a spokesperson for the bank.
In 69th place among business debtors, the Crowne Plaza JFK airport hotel owes $944,491 in sales taxes and $3,811 in corporate taxes, according to warrants dating back as far as February 2008, the documents show. Once part of the InterContinental Hotels Group, the Crowne Plaza JFK was cut off from the franchise in 2008. Its Web site is no longer operational.
Incidentally, Charles Morais, president and CEO of the beleaguered Kronos Hotels, also owes over $20,000 in withholding taxes and $979,046 in sales taxes both individually and as a person responsible for the Crowne Plaza JFK. He ranked 67th among individual debtors.
Nearby, the operators of the Holiday Inn JFK airport hotel owe $852,239 in sales taxes, ranking 108th. A spokesperson for the hotel had no comment.