A grand jury concluded that too many New Yorkers are concealing the true value of their property from the state in order to dodge or reduce the taxes they owe, Reuters reported, citing an announcement by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. Property taxes are the city’s largest source of income, accounting for about $17 billion last year.
“Some unscrupulous individuals and entities routinely try to cheat the city out of this valuable revenue stream by filing false information with city agencies,” Vance said in a statement.
The jury also found the New York lacks resources for detecting false filings and inadequately punishes abusers. It recommended revising the New York City Administrative Code to render criminal tax laws applicable to property tax, imposing earlier filing deadlines, requiring a CPA to sign certain filings, civil sanctions for property owners who file false Real Property Income and Expense statements and devising a system to make property data more easily accessible to tax assessors.
“We will work with the state and city legislatures to ensure appropriate reforms are enacted and that property owners face real penalties for filing fraudulent documents with the city,” David Frankel, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Finance, said.