Among the steel, stone and concrete that make up the many structures in the city, real estate developers may be cheating the government out of hundreds of millions of dollars each year in unpaid taxes.
"If I were a resident of New York, I would definitely be outraged," said Jerry Curnutt, a former agent for the Internal Revenue Service. "These folks know the rules and to not pay what you owe is egregious."
Curnutt said many real estate partnerships are not paying what they owe.
When he was working for the IRS more than a decade ago, Curnutt figured out how to use tax data to catch them.
"It was exciting because the data can identify and disclose with a great deal of specificity,” said Curnutt.
The process isn’t too difficult to understand. If an individual decides to partner up with someone to construct a building, they go to the bank and receive a loan. Each year when doing taxes, they deduct a portion of that loan.
However, when they sell the building — or even if the bank takes it over — they owe the government the cumulative amount they saved from the deductions.
"We’re talking about unreported tax gains in many cases in well in excess of $100 million," said Curnutt.