Subsidy Sheet: What does Madison Square Garden get from its political contributions?


1.  A Madison Square Garden-backed PAC has given State Senate candidates $400,000 (Gothamist). Where do these candidates stand on the state law that exempts MSG from $43 million a year in NYC property taxes?  

The arena owned by the Dolan family hasn’t been subject to any city property taxes since 1982, when the state Legislature passed an exemption – now worth an estimated $43 million a year – that remains on the books despite long-standing efforts to repeal it. Estimates from the city’s Independent Budget Office show MSG has saved roughly $875 million, adjusted for inflation, since the exemption began — quite the coup for a for-profit venture.

2. Amazon, unable to meet job commitments, lost $11 million in Nassau County tax breaks that it never needed anyway (Newsday). The Nassau County IDA voted to end the agreement due to Amazon’s inability to meet job creation targets. The agency also clawed back the sales and mortgage tax savings it had already doled out. Good on the IDA for terminating the deal, but why did they give Amazon subsidies in the first place? Let’s hope other subsidy-granting agencies in NYS are keeping as close an eye on job promises and commit to clawing back subsidies in the event that job numbers don’t pan out. 

The board of Nassau’s Industrial Development Agency voted Thursday evening to end a 15-year property tax agreement with the e-commerce giant over its inability to meet job creation requirements. As part of the termination, the agency will also be clawing back more than $1.7 million in sales and mortgage tax savings already given out.

3. In an op-ed, State Senator Gounardes says the state should consider eliminating tax incentives in order to help fund the MTA (NY Daily News).

Closing the MTA’s deficit is hard, but it can be done. New York’s state budget is $220 billion. Every penny of expenditure, every dollar of foregone revenue, and every tax incentive giveaway must be on the table so we can fully fund public transit.

4. Construction permits surged prior to the expiration of the 421-a tax break for NYC real estate developers (The City). While some worry that the expiration will exacerbate the city’s housing crisis, the Community Service Society of New York (CSSNY) has shown that the program has actually produced little affordable housing.


The fatal flaw is in the [421-a] program’s initial inception: it was designed in 1971 for a real estate market that looks nothing like the city today. No matter how many amendments the legislature makes to the program, it remains primarily a tax break for the wealthy, not a driver of housing affordability.

5. Candidates in the NY-12 congressional primary were criticized for receiving political contributions from Stephen Ross, the chairman for Related Companies, the developer behind Hudson Yards (NY Daily News). Related is currently seeking to build a casino in the area.

When asked during a NY1 debate whether he’d support a casino in the Manhattan district, [Representative Jerrold] Nadler appeared open to the idea, saying that casinos “can generate huge revenue,” which is “very good,” but he then added that ultimately the decision would fall to the city and is one “that Congress has nothing to say about.”

6. In April, NYS passed a budget bill that would require the state to hire a firm to evaluate the state’s business tax incentives. The RFP is finally out – we encourage all qualified firms to apply!

If you got this from a friend, sign up here. Subsidy Sheet is written by Tom Speaker, Policy Analyst at Reinvent Albany, and edited by John Kaehny. Elizabeth Marcello also contributed writing this week. Please send questions and tips to tom [at] We look forward to hearing from you!