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Report: Jehovah's Witnesses Avoided $368M In Real Estate Taxes


The Jehovah's Witnesses have been exempted from paying at least $368M in taxes on their Brooklyn real estate holdings over the past 12 years.

The findings come from an analysis by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, which released the stats to increase its pressure on the religious org to donate $50M to the borough as it sells off its properties, Crain's reports.

The portfolio includes 37 properties concentrated in and around Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo; had the religious group not been exempt from paying taxes, it would have paid $138M since 2006, while transfer and capital gains taxes for 21 of those sites sold since 2004 would have totaled up to $230M.

The argument: the Witnesses have benefited from Brooklyn's boom, but have not sufficiently given back to the community. For instance, the org promised in 2004 to improve a Dumbo subway station and asphalt park in exchange for a rezoning that increased the value of its 85 Jay St, but then never built on the improved property and instead put it up for sale. The building could possibly fetch $1B with the rezoning, even though promised improvements were never made. [Crain's]