DUMBO — The Jehovah’s Witnesses have been exempt from paying at least $368 million in taxes on their Brooklyn properties over the last 12 years, according to an analysis by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and BJH Advisers.
The Partnership has released the study as it continues to put pressure on the religious organization to donate $50 million to Brooklyn as it sells its property in the borough.
The analysis looks at 37 properties owned by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York in and around Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO, and estimates that the group has forgone paying $138.6 million in property taxes since 2006. In addition, transfer and capital gains taxes for 21 of the Witnesses' properties sold since 2004 would have added up to about $230 million, according to the study.
Because the Watchtower is a religious organization, it is exempt from paying taxes.
The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, along with local elected officials, has been asking the Witnesses to make good on promises the group made in 2004 as part of a rezoning deal for their lot at 85 Jay Street, which was never developed and is now being sold as the organization moves upstate.
Among those promises were renovations to Bridge Park 2 and the York Street F station.
The Watchtower announced last month that it would give $5.5 million to fix up the park, but a spokesman for the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership said a $50 million donation to the city isn’t out of line considering the costs of renovating both the subway station and the park.
The Partnership says the study shows the magnitude of the Witnesses’ profits and estimates that the group will make about $1 billion by selling its Brooklyn properties.
The Watchtower is planning to move its headquarters upstate to Warwick by 2017 after selling the remaining Brooklyn properties.
A spokesman for the The Watchtower did not immediately respond to request for comment.