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General News    H3'ed 4/21/15

Land Tax Justice at last in NYC?; My new Book

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One57 - an ultra-lux building where 2 penthouses recently sold for over $90m...each
One57 - an ultra-lux building where 2 penthouses recently sold for over $90m...each
(Image by NY Post)
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(The following was an email sent out to members of the Georgist activist group: Common Ground-NYC, and to select economic reformers and friends who are not members).

Hello Common Groundlings (and many friends, some for the first time):

Can it be? Is Land Tax justice finally coming to NYC?
It would be truly ironic if such a move would start at the top and "trickle down" to lesser properties, but maybe that makes sense after all, when some ultra-high end properties are paying as little as 1/100th the property tax as properties selling for 1/100th the price.
How NYC does not tax the super-rich

The article lists just such an actual example:
With controversial tax breaks granted to the ($100 million) One57 condo tower, the total property tax bill for the spectacular penthouse is just $17,268, an effective rate of 0.017 percent of its sale price.
A $1m condo pays 100X the property tax rate of a $100m condo. The difference is capitalized into the price
A $1m condo pays 100X the property tax rate of a $100m condo. The difference is capitalized into the price
(Image by NY Post)
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That's right. A condo selling for a million dollars is actually carrying a higher tax BILL, not just a higher RATE, than the recently sold most expensive condo in the city, which sold for over $100 million ($100,471,452.77 to be exact)!

Here's today's Quiz:
Assume you are a billionaire looking to buy the penthouse that just sold above at One57. Now how high would you go if the property tax was $1.7268m/year instead of just $17,268 (in other words, the tax was about the same percentage of property value as the $1m condo)?
A. The same $100m
B. $75m
C. $50m
D. Less than any of the above.

Several factors probably play into your decision, like how long you will retain the apartment, i.e. how long you have to pay the property tax (which will probably go up as time goes on too). One thing is for sure though. A $100m Condo looks a lot less attractive when the property tax is $1.7268m than when it is only $17,268. Another thing is for sure, the city would benefit immensely from collection of a more appropriate property tax.

A new interactive map has just come out from the Municipal Art Society, based on hundreds of hours of painstakingly combing through every property in the 5 boroughs that uses the 421a tax abatement. It was recently written up in the Gothamist (which is rapidly becoming one of my favorite online dailies): The now infamous One57 got a $35 million tax break AND a 94% tax abatement going forward, and for that "developers will build 66 "affordable" units in the South Bronx" says the article.

You can explore the tradeoffs in the interactive map here:
None of the buildings I looked at caused more than a few dozen "affordable" housing units to be built as a result of 421a. I wasn't able to find any that exceeded double digits, even for prime buildings where condos were selling for high 8 figure amounts.

Many people are not content to look at maps though, and are taking to the streets - 80 of them here: "421-a paid for my bidet"
More than 80 tenant advocates descended on New York's "Billionaires' Row" Wednesday to protest against what they believe is an unfair tax break for the wealthy.

And an excellent article in The Gothamist (click here) explains all the intricacies of the 421-a law, and the proposals for reform. This article in Crain's is more sympathetic to their base of Real Estate developers, but even they can't predict what form the new reforms will take: Real estate developers are wary of changes as expiration looms for popular tax break.

One thing is clear to Georgists though. Nothing can be done to what's basically a subsidy program for multimillionaires that will make it equal in impact to a Land Value Tax.
For those who are unfamiliar with Land Value Taxation, or Georgism, a series of recently posted videos by veteran Georgist educator and CGNYC member Mike Curtis can make it clear, to be found here: (some videos from the 12-session Teacher's Training, which I also attended, may not be up yet. My most recent presentation on Case Studies in New York City Property Development may be found at this same HGS Youtube page).

My Book -

I am formally announcing the launch of my own book: "America is Not Broke!" from Tayen Lane Publishing. The inside jacket blurb reads:
The unsustainability of the American economy is as familiar as the newscycle. There is no money for social programs, no money to run the government, no money to cut taxes, and above all, we have to cut, cut, cut. But, what if it's not true?

Instead of familiar complaints about the national debt, leading to just slicing a shrinking economic pie differently, or worse, to Austerity Economics, the reality is that we already have all the wealth we could ever need. The tried and proven proposals in America Is Not Broke would guarantee America's prosperity, fairness, democracy, and economic and ecological sustainability. Four multi-trillion dollar reforms: Sovereign Money, Georgism, Public Banking, and Ending Government Financial Asset Hoarding, plus a few other major reforms, show how we can have it all, if we only learn where to look.
I have received endorsements from several people familiar to regular readers of this newsletter. Here are just a few:
Scott Baker is that rare social activist, the holistic thinker who scrutinises all the structural pillars that support the social system.
He identifies the points of stress that require urgent remedial action. This volume deepens the debate among the millions of reformers who currently punch below their weight because they isolate themselves in single-issue campaigns. Most significantly, this volume integrates the land-rent and money-creation issues to signpost the policies that really would transform society for the common good.
--Fred Harrison, Research Director of the London-based Land Research Trust, Author, Reporter

America Is Not Broke! Four Multi-Trillion Dollar Paths To A Thriving America will take its well deserved place in the literature of an America resurgent, an America in which the vast common wealth of the American people is put to work to take back our stolen economy, politics and future from the parasites in pinstripes."
--Mike Krauss is the founder and chair of the Pennsylvania Project

Scott Baker, a reliable and powerful supporter of the public banking movement, has now taken his writing and activism to the
next level in writing America Is Not Broke! This book dispels the myths about public banking and our monetary system in general. It is welcome outside-the-box thinking and I heartily endorse it.
--Ellen Brown, Founder, Public Banking Institute, Author of Web of Debt and The Public Bank Solution

The book is available from the Tayen Lane site: and on Amazon: It is currently only available in hardcover, but the paperback and ebook should be available in a couple of months.

A brief diversion for our new Public Banking recipients
I and two members of the Public Banking Institute, Walt McRee and Joan Bartl, gave a presentation/panel discussion at Goshen, NY, last December, and, thanks to the original footage from Occupy's alt.banking group member Manny Manhattan, that video is now up on Youtube (it actually takes quite a bit of massaging from camera to final product, but Adobe Premier Elements makes some of that easy). It is here, inside an explanatory article on Opednews: OpEdNews Diary: Public Banking Presentation at Goshen, NY

Finally, on the 150th anniversary of president Lincoln's assassination (April 14), please consider signing this petition:

Until next time, Happy Landings....

Scott Baker - President: Common Ground - NYC ; NY State Coordinator, Public Banking Institute; Opednews Blogger/Managing Editor; Huffington Post Blogger; Author

Video Appearances & Slideshows here:

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Scott Baker Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter Page       Linked In Page       Instagram Page

Scott Baker is a Managing Editor & The Economics Editor at Opednews, and a former blogger for Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Global Economic Intersection.

His anthology of updated Opednews articles "America is Not Broke" was published by Tayen Lane Publishing (March, 2015) and may be found here:

Scott is a former and current President of Common Ground-NY (, a Geoist/Georgist activist group. He has written dozens of (more...)

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