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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Lawyers in "The Zone" Feast on Tax Breaks

Interesting article in the Syracuse Post Standard:  Law Firms Cash in Big on Empire Zone Tax Breaks, by Michelle Breidenbach & Mike McAndrew:

All over New York, clever lawyers have helped wealthy energy companies and shopping malls, century-old factories and even low-wage taverns win state tax breaks intended for someone else. The lawyers also helped themselves. Syracuse, Albany and Buffalo law firms some of Upstate New York's oldest, healthiest and most politically entrenched institutions erased their state tax bills with Empire Zone benefits, according to recently released records that provide the first public accounting of the program.

At least 70 law firms cost state taxpayers more than $6 million in 2005, records show. Gov. George Pataki and state legislators voted in 1999 to revive an underused set of tax breaks to bring new businesses into poor neighborhoods. They intended Empire Zones as a weapon to help New York compete with other states in the battle to attract new businesses. Instead, Bond, Schoeneck & King claimed $1.2 million in state tax credits in 2005 more than any other law firm. It is a 110-year-old firm that shuffled paperwork to make itself look new, qualifying it for a more lucrative set of tax breaks.

(Hat Tip:  Ben Cunningham.)

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