Zuccotti Park Owners Brookfield Properties Owe City $139K in Back Taxes
City taxpayers have poured millions of dollars and hundreds of police hours into keeping the peace at the privately owned Zuccotti Park during the Occupy Wall Street protests.
The least the park’s owners could do is pay their taxes.
The city Finance Department says park owner Brookfield Properties and its parent company, Brookfield US Corp., currently owe the city more than $139,000 in unpaid business taxes from 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
“That’s obviously ironic,” said City Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn), who was arrested last month protesting the NYPD clearing of Zuccotti Park.
“Occupy Wall Street has been talking about economic disparity . . . and here’s Brookfield Properties, which has worked with the mayor to keep the messengers out, not paying their share.”
Brookfield disputes the debt, blaming an error by the city.
“We believe that we have paid all taxes due to the City of New York,” said company spokeswoman Melissa Coley. “We are in discussion with the city’s Department of Finance, and we anticipate that this error will be resolved very shortly with Brookfield owing no additional funds.”
Brookfield is among 40,000 entities that owe the city an eye-popping $149 million in overdue business taxes dating to 2000, the Finance Department says.
The list also includes the Philadelphia Eagles, the WNBA, Heineken USA, Comcast Sports, the company that built the Trump International Building on Central Park West, the Binder and Binder law firm, the OTR Media billboard company, former City Council President Andrew Stein and the Rev. Al Sharpton.
“We fully expect companies to pay any debt owed to the city and we aggressively pursue those that do not,” said city Finance Commissioner David Frankel.
It was unclear why the Eagles owe $15,263.69 in business taxes to the city. A spokesman did not return calls.
Some of the alleged scofflaws insist their debts are all a big misunderstanding.
“We’ve received no notices of taxes due for these periods for any of our business entities and do not believe any taxes are due,” said a spokesman for the NBA about a $41,000 debt for the WNBA in 2008 and a smaller $3,800 debt for NBA Properties Inc. from 2008 and 2009.
A Heineken USA spokesman said the beer company paid its 2005, 2006 and 20007 taxes in a timely manner but filed amended returns in 2010 that resulted in the city filing tax warrants to collect $44,000 from the prior years.
The mega-billboard company OTR Media says it has settled with the city and is in the process of paying off $204,000 in back taxes from 2003, 2004 and 2007
A spokeswoman for Sharpton said he has nearly satisfied a payment agreement he had for a $261,000 debt that he ran up between 2000 and 2004 on his personal business and his former company, Rev. Al Communications.
Other recognizable names on the list include companies that have gone belly up, like Lehman Bros., which owes $71,000, and the company that built the Trump International Hotel and Condos on Columbus Circle.