Council closes tax-lien loophole that threatened property seizures

Nonprofits exempt from taxes can lose land for failure to pay them

Antonio Reynoso and 140 Devoe Street in Brooklyn (Credit: Google Maps)
Antonio Reynoso and 140 Devoe Street in Brooklyn (Credit: Google Maps)

The City Council passed a measure to safeguard non-profits against tax liens for taxes they don’t technically owe.

Although charitable organizations are exempt from property taxes, New York City sent 90-day notices to 610 such property owners in 2019, and sold off 27 liens, City & State reported. Six of those have settled their debt to avoid foreclosure.

Councilmember Antonio Reynoso drafted the bill, which will require the Department of Finance to exclude from the city’s tax-lien sales those properties that have received a charity exemption in the last two years. It also excludes charities that have applied for the exemption but not yet received it.

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Liens can still be placed on properties for not paying their water bill.

Charities got swept up in the annual tax lien sales following a 2006 decision by the Department of Finance to stop sending renewal notices each year to properties with an exemption, which led to many of the exemptions lapsing.

“When it comes to developers, the city’s willing to bend over backwards to make sure they get help,” Reynoso said, according to the publication, “but smaller organizations don’t even get what’s due to them.”

The annual tax lien sale is up for reauthorization by the City Council this year, which approved it through 2020 by a 50-to-1 vote in 2016. [City & State] — Georgia Kromrei