Councilman Nelson Says Foreign Govs Bilking City

Michael Nelson // Source:

City Councilman Michael Nelson is demanding the United States Department of State reverse a policy allowing foreign governments to skip out on millions of dollars in city property taxes.

His criticism comes as a panel of federal judges ruled that foreign governments are exempt from local property taxes, citing State Department policy.

But the policy is new, according to the local legislator, and it’s a snub to city residents.

Nelson said a 2009 decision by the State Department exempts foreign governments from local property taxes on portions of their diplomatic office being used for non-diplomatic purposes. According to Nelson, the fed’s stance prior to the new policy was that United Nations missions must pay relevant taxes on those properties, but now the city can’t get them to pay up.

Nelson’s office estimates that New York City is expected to lose approximately $260 million in back taxes and about $7 million a year in current tax revenues.

“Although I am proud and honored that New York City is home to the United Nations, I am deeply concerned about the impact this court ruling will have on local revenue and the message it will send to other nations,” said Councilman Nelson. “I recognize the right to exempt certain properties occupied by foreign governments from paying property taxes yet I firmly believe this should not apply to properties that are used for anything other than diplomatic purposes. Therefore, it is more imperative now than ever that the State Department reverse its policy.”