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An Art Installation Visualizes the Boggling Tax Disparities Along Central Park

As part of a show at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, SITU Studio dives deep into the inequity of New York City property taxes.
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"Section 581" by SITU Studio, Photograph by Patrick Mandeville

New York City calculates property taxes for condos and co-ops using a byzantine formula mandated by the state. Which is all well and good, except that the formula underestimates the value of New York’s most valuable properties—some of the most valuable residences on Earth—meaning that the billionaires who own them pay a fraction of the property taxes that other New Yorkers pay.

Billionaires don’t pay property taxes in New York. While the property levy is New York City’s biggest source of revenue, it’s also inherently inefficient, assigning higher real property taxes to apartment-renters than to the universally maligned absentee foreign owners living in sky-gems along Billionaires’ Row. The state’s formula deprives New York of millions in revenue each year; it calls into question why former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was so eager to see billionaires move to New York in the first place if they weren’t ever going to be charged a dime in property (or income) taxes.