ICIP [Industrial and Commercial Incentive Program] grew out of the 1970s fiscal crisis, when the city wanted to encourage the building or updating of industrial and commercial space. The tax abatement, which can last up to 25 years, is based on the amount invested in a property.
The city’s ‘free lunch’ for offices, fast food
Last year ICIP cost the city $409.5 million in forgone taxes, more than double its 2002 price tag and four times the cost of a decade ago.
The city has awarded ICIP benefits to fast-food chains like McDonald’s, White Castle and Dunkin’ Donuts, effectively giving them tax breaks to move into low-income communities.
This contradicts recent actions by the city targeted at the chains, such as new requirements to post calories. Last spring, a Health Dept. report linked obesity in Harlem to a lack of healthy-food options. In East Harlem, 31 percent of adults are obese.
A White Castle there, top, gets an annual $13,942 ICIP benefit, while a McDonald’s, bottom, writes off $21,824 a year. While the number of franchisees getting ICIP benefits is unknown, the companies are benefitting too. As of 2005, McDonald’s owned 15 properties getting the tax break. It will deduct $28,990 from this year’s property taxes on its spot at 42nd Street near Madison Avenue. That’s roughly a $288,200 break over the life of one ICIP exemption.