- The Washington Times - Monday, January 24, 2022

House Democratic Conference Chairman Hakeem Jeffries has been enjoying a tax break that cuts the property tax on his Brooklyn condo to $213 a year, according to newly revealed records.

The congressman, who frequently calls for tax hikes to make the wealthy “pay their fair share,” co-sponsored that hefty tax benefit when he was a state lawmaker.

In 2007, Mr. Jeffries purchased the Prospect Park condo unit that benefits from an enormous property tax rollback under what’s known as the 421a Tax Abatement program, which critics say financially favors wealthy developers and tenants.

The tax benefit for Mr. Jeffries’ condo, which was first reported by The New York Post, is applied for 25 or 35 years for developers and residents in buildings where at least 20% of the units are affordable for moderate- to low-income residents. The congressman will have access to his tax break until 2032.

New York City taxpayers are on the hook for up to $1.6 billion a year paying for the subsidy program.

Mr. Jeffries, who is considered a front-runner to lead House Democrats when Speaker Nancy Pelosi steps aside, currently makes $174,000 a year as a member of Congress. The median property tax for city homeowners is over $5,000 and the median household income is just over $68,000.

Mr. Jeffries’ spokesman, Andy Eichar, said there was nothing unusual about New Yorkers receiving the tax break.

“The 421a program has been a matter of law for more than 50 years. Upon its enactment in 1971, the 421a program was designed to encourage investment in traditionally underdeveloped neighborhoods, particularly in Harlem, the Bronx and Brooklyn,” he told The Washington Times.

Mr. Jeffries purchased the apartment on the border of Prospect Heights and Crown Heights in Brooklyn over 15 years ago, his spokesman explained, when “there were more auto-body shops on the block than there were homeowners.”

“In 2007, during his first year in the State Legislature, and after his apartment home had already been purchased, Assemblyman Jeffries and his fellow Democrats pushed to amend the 421a statute and successfully inserted a 20% affordable housing requirement,” he said. “Assemblyman Jeffries proudly helped champion this reform effort.”

Mr. Jeffries’s critics noted that he routinely rails against wealthy Americans for not paying enough taxes, including in a recent tweet in which he vowed to fight for passage of President Biden’s $1.75 trillion social welfare and climate bill:

“Back in Washington to continue the fight to pass the #BuildBackBetter Act. The wealthy, well-off and well-connected must pay their fair share.”

“This is so much worse than your run-of-the-mill Democrat hypocrisy. He helped enact legislation that he directly benefited from,” said Nick Langworthy, chairman of the New State Republican Committee. “The fact that hardworking New Yorkers are paying huge property tax bills of their own and forced to subsidize his $1.2 million apartment and $174,000 a year taxpayer-funded salary is a disgusting outrage. He should be forced to pay his fair share.”

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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