In response to proposed legislation regarding the tax exempt status of universities in New York City

NYU flag on a building

First, the property tax exemptions for universities are not something new or something NYU actively sought; it is a principle that has been enshrined in New York State real property law for over 200 years (ie, prior to NYU's founding) in recognition of the special, vital, charitable mission of certain not-for-profit organizations, such as houses of worship, hospitals, schools and universities, etc. And NYU actually does already pay some $15 million annually in property taxes, either directly (for any spaces we own and lease out that are not serving our scholarly mission (like a food service establishment on the first floor of a building that is otherwise used for academics) or indirectly (for property taxes connected to spaces we lease).

Second, to choose two charitable, non-profit organizations out of the thousands in the state and compel them to be treated like for-profit entities certainly strikes us as misguided and unfair. 

Third, the tax status that derives from NYU’s charitable educational mission is not a one-way exchange. We are deeply appreciative of those policies, which have been in place for two centuries, but we also take some modest pride in the many, many ways, small and large, that NYU contributes to the city’s well-being and its economy. NYU has a strong robust record of commitment to conducting programs that are vital to the well-being of New York City. NYU, just as every other charitable organization in the State, has relied on the principles and tax exemptions long enshrined in state law since its founding. Were NYU suddenly taxed on its property, it would be extraordinarily disruptive, not only to our extensive operations, but to the now well-established mechanisms of support that NYU provides to every level of New York government. Today, we are a partner in addressing long-standing needs. If this were to change, we would be forced to rethink much of the way we operate.

Just by way of example:

  • NYU runs one of the largest, if not the largest, HEOP program in New York State - a program specifically for New York students. And where HEOP-participating institutions are supposed to match 15% of state funding, NYU matches it at more than 50%.
  • NYU’s engineering school has been deeply involved in science education in the NYC public schools for over 20 years, providing innovative K-12 STEM programs.  
  • NYU runs the largest America Reads / America Counts program in the US, annually putting some 850 NYU students in New York City public school classrooms in over 70 schools in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx to assist public school students with their education.  
  • In a typical year, some 16,000 NYU students will engage in community service, contributing some 1.7 million hours.
  • NYU Langone’s total community health benefit last year was $1.4 billion, which includes unreimbursed costs of care for Medicaid and Medicare patients. NYU Langone provided more than $70 million in charity care and operates nearly 75 Family Health Centers that provide care and assistance for people regardless of their ability to pay or insurance status. 
  • NYU's Dental College’s Mobile Van and its clinic provide thousands of New Yorkers with no cost or low cost dental care annually
  • NYU's Veterans’ Oral Care Resource program provides dental care to veterans ineligible for VA benefits.  
  • NYU runs its Prison Education Program at the State’s Wallkill Correctional Facility; it’s been very successful, and has included formerly incarcerated graduates coming to NYU’s campus to finish earning their bachelor degrees.
  • Thousands of pre-college NYC students participate in our college access programs 
  • NYU's new Nanofab Cleanroom — vital for high tech manufacturing, and unique in Brooklyn — will be open not just to NYU faculty and students but to other academic institutions and tech firms in Brooklyn

NYU is often asked by the City and the State to participate in their initiatives. For example:

  • NYU’s participation in the City’s Applied Sciences Initiative led to the University transforming a moribund City building — 370 Jay St — into a vibrant center for science, technology, and new media arts.  
  • NYU is part of the consortium led by Stony Brook to make Governor’s Island a major center for climate center research and education.  
  • NYU has taken a leading role among universities in the City’s Asylum Application Help Center, in which university students from NYU and elsewhere assist individuals and families with applying for asylum and work permits.  
  • And NYU oversees several incubator programs to assist NYC start-ups, which help the local economy and local job creation.

More broadly:

  • NYU employs thousands of New Yorkers in jobs with good pay and excellent benefits who altogether pay in excess of $100 million in payroll taxes each year. NYU itself spends hundreds of millions of dollars in goods and services, much of it in New York City and New York State. 
  • NYU spends over $800 million/year of institutional funds for scholarship aid alone 
  • NYU confers nearly 7,000 Bachelor degrees every year, and roughly 11,000 Masters and doctoral degrees. NYU's post-graduation surveying has found that some 75% of our graduates stay in the New York City area to work — meaning that NYU, by drawing students nationally and internationally to NYC, is contributing significantly to providing a highly-educated workforce for the city. And those students, coming across the US and world, spend hundreds of millions of dollars in New York City goods and services.  
  • Part of what draws people to NYC is its intellectual, cultural, and educational assets; we believe that NYU — through the Tisch School of the Arts, through our other arts programs, through the Grey Gallery art museum, through our open lectures and events, through the performing arts events that take place in NYU's Skirball Center — is an important contributor to that part of New York’s economy, both in training and educating actors, artists, filmmakers, and playwrights, and in offering a wide array of events on our campus.

I hope this helps make NYU's position clear.  

John Beckman

Press Contact

John Beckman
John Beckman
(212) 998-6848