By Carol Tannenhauser
Readers email WSR all the time with tips, problems and questions. Commenters regularly offer opposing views and versions of the facts, often with absolute certainty. So, where can you go for the final word?
To our new Answer Column!
We’ll do the research and get back to you with an answer. No issue is too big or small. All questions will be respected if respectful. No doubt other people wonder about the same things you do, and this is a way to get the facts and information out.
For example, Christian Toth emailed us the other day asking for clarification on a question that keeps coming up in the debate about disappearing mom-and-pop shops: Do landlords get tax benefits from having empty stores?
“It’d be great to get an analysis of exactly what the tax situation is for these empty storefronts,” Toth wrote. “Business loss therefore deduction? No deduction but pure loss? Different in every case?
“If you have a past article on the subject I’d appreciate being directed to it.
“If not, I’ll bet a lot of readers would also appreciate one.”
To answer his question, we called an Upper West Side landlord and leading tax attorney, who said the following:
“…there is no benefit to the landlord derived from leaving retail space vacant. There is no tax benefit other than the fact that s/he receives less income and therefore pays less tax. It would be similar to taking a cut in salary just to pay less in taxes.
“Furthermore, when a space is vacant the landlord not only loses the rental income and the contribution by the tenant to his/her real estate taxes, but also incurs the broker fees and renovation costs when the space is rented…
“The landlord can petition for a reduction in real estate taxes because of an alleged diminution in the value of the property due to loss of commercial rental income, however this will not offset the economic loss suffered as a result of vacant space.”
Do you have a question? Write it in the comments or send it to westsiderag@gmail dot com. Subject: Answer Column