Saturday, November 13, 2010

Red hot over tax break Pol: End strip club 'giveaways' exposed by News

Manhattan's Penthouse Executive Club (below) and Starlets Gentleman's Club (bottom) got enough tax breaks to pay for hundreds of lap dances.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer urged the state Legislature Friday to stop "out-of-control" property tax "giveaways" for strip clubs and other businesses.
Stringer acted after the Daily News reported that at least three city strip clubs, including the luxurious Penthouse Executive Club on Manhattan's West Side, received tens of thousands of dollars in annual tax breaks.
The old Industrial and Commercial Incentive Program, which began in the mid-1970s, was supposed to help retain businesses that might otherwise leave the city.
But tax breaks under the program have zoomed to more than 6,000 properties.
The owners of the Penthouse Club - a popular upscale joint - saved more than $37,000 on their tax bill this year.
Starlets Gentleman's Club, near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Astoria, Queens, has enjoyed an exemption for years - one worth more than $10,000 this year.
Bronx nudie bar landed an exemption back in 2001. The break was worth more than $12,000 off its taxes this year, but the bar closed over the summer.
The city Finance Department routinely rubber-stamps property breaks for major chain department stores, fast-food restaurants and gas stations, which Stringer documented in a 2008 report called "Senseless Subsidies."
"This is one of the weirdest exemption programs ever devised," Stringer said outside the Penthouse Club.
The Legislature has made minor changes to the tax break since 2008 - and changed the name to the Industrial and Commercial Abatement Program - but it did not adopt the sweeping reforms Stringer has urged.
The commercial abatement program is just one of several property tax exemption programs invisibly draining city revenues, according the Independent Budget Office.
In September, the IBO reported that the city lost $4.6 billion last year from various tax exemptions it handed out to property owners, nearly twice the $2.3 billion it lost in 2003.



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