The cash-strapped MTA is potentially missing out on a vital source of funds because the city is asleep at the wheel on tax collection, according to a new audit from Comptroller Scott Stringer.
The audit released Sunday found the city’s Finance Department may have failed to collect about $620,000 in taxes — and there could be more that the MTA missed out on.
“We always hear how the MTA is ‘cash-strapped’ — which is why what this audit found boggles the mind,” Stringer said in a statement.
“Revenue that the city should ensure goes toward public transit isn’t being accounted for by the Department of Finance. That’s wrong, plain and simple.”
The audit came days after the MTA approved a massive $51.5 billion capital plan aimed at redressing years of underinvestment.
"[The Finance Department] has an active audit program that collects over a billion dollars a year for a variety of city taxes, including the real property transfer tax,” department spokeswoman Jacqueline Gold said in a statement. “Our auditors investigate complex issues after returns are initially filed and make millions of dollars of adjustments, including the types of issues identified by the comptroller’s office.”
The audit focused on a type of tax called real property transfer tax, or RPTT. The MTA gets a cut whenever taxes on a commercial property transaction exceed $500,000.
Focusing on a sample of 179 returns, Stringer’s office found the Finance Department failed to follow its own rules, increasing “the risk that the full amount of taxes owed was not collected by the city and sent to the MTA, as well as other places where tax dollars are sorely needed.”
The audit also found staff “were inadequately trained to handle RPTT-related documents.”