Thought taxes in New York City couldn’t get any higher? Think again. The Pied-a-terre tax is back on the docket, and it has recently gotten some major support that pushed it further along than what it was last a topic of discussion in 2014.
Ken Griffin made headlines when he purchased a penthouse at 220 Central Park South for $238 million, making it the most expensive home in the country. He plans to use the home when he visits his New York office. This headline also caught the attention of City Council who started discussion on the Pied-a-terre tax once again.
So, what is a Pied-a-terre and the proposed tax?
A pied-a-terre is a part-time second home occupied for less than half of the year. Often times, it is an investment for the owner and may not be occupied. Given that the owner’s primary address is elsewhere, owners of a pied-a-terre in New York are not subject to state or local income tax.
The current proposal has a sliding tax surcharge and fee for homes priced $5 million and over, with higher priced homes incurring higher fees. City and State officials cited that they feel this additional tax is necessary to fund the failing mass transit system in New York City.
Cause for Concern
Regardless of whether you think it is fair to tax the rich disproportionately or not, a proposed tax plan should be assessed in regard to economic impact before being implemented. From a real estate perspective, there is cause for concern based on the proposal of a pied-a-terre tax in New York City.
International Buyers: International Buyers have already been on the decline in recent years, and the implementation of a pied-a-terre tax would likely prevent some would-be foreign buyers from investing in New York.
Luxury Condos and Co-Ops: We would likely expect to see some sort of downtick in the luxury segment of the market. Just because a buyer can afford a $5 million apartment, does not mean they spend frivolously and love taxes. Why would they invest in New York when they could invest in another viable city that does not impose a pied-a-terre tax?
The luxury segment of the market has already been under pressure in recent years, so another tax could additional pressure that is not needed in this sector.
New Development: An adverse impact on the Luxury Market would likely spill over to the New Development pipeline for luxury properties. If there is a decreased demand overall for properties $5 million and up, why would Developers be incentivized to build properties that may not sell? This, of course, would then have an impact on all the employment created within the construction sector when development is booming.
High Costs to Transact: New York City is one of the most expensive places to transact on property without the additional pied-a-terre tax. Costs associated with a real estate transaction in New York City include Transfer Tax, State Transfer Tax, Mortgage Recording Tax, Mansion Tax, and Real Property Taxes. Not to mention, under the new Federal Tax Code, the deduction of SALT has been eliminated.
Overall, if the tax were to have an adverse impact on the real estate market for properties $5 million and up, we would likely see a reduction in value at the high end of the market. This may especially may be the case for properties that are already valued/priced near the $5 million threshold as Buyers will submit bids under $5 million to avoid the tax.
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