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Saving Gotham: fighting corruption in New York City’s property tax system

Lagunes, Paul Felipe; Huang, Rongyao

Property assessors are government officials charged with determining the rate at which land and building owners should be taxed. Bribes and other forms of undue influence can provide property owners unwarranted relief from taxes. This challenge is present around the world, but it garners special significance in New York City. Assessors here are responsible for determining the taxable value of approximately one million properties, which supply up to forty percent of the city’s fiscal revenue. In this paper we explain how New York City’s properties are taxed from year to year, and we describe the events surrounding the 2002 arrest of eighteen current and former tax assessors who were charged with taking bribes in exchange for undervaluing properties. For the duration of the scheme, over three decades, New York City may have lost up to one billion dollars in revenue.

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Greed, Corruption, and the Modern State
Edward Elgar Publishing

More About This Work

Academic Units
School of International and Public Affairs
Published Here
May 11, 2017