Brooklyn is known for many things. Now it’s known for harboring the state’s biggest tax debtor.
Irving Bilzinsky, a proud son of the borough of churches, was named the state tax department’s enemy number one.
Bilzinsky, a resident of Montauk Court in Sheepshead Bay and the former owner of the Scores strip club in Manhattan, owes over $15 million in back taxes between 2007 and 2009, according to a list of New York’s top 250 delinquent tax payers that was made public for the first time last week in a new shame campaign to recoup unpaid taxes.
Bilzinsky and Scores went bankrupt back in 1998. The taxes he owes are his individually, as well as back taxes from his popular flesh flashing joint never paid, officials said. Attempts to reach Bilzinsky were unsuccessful as this paper went to press.
According to state tax records, Brooklyn is home to 13 of the state’s notorious 250. Residents owe anywhere between $402,000 and $5 million in back taxes.
Legislators hope that putting their names on display will prompt some of them to make good on what they owe.
“It’s a question of fairness,” said Bensonhurst Assemblymember William Colton (D-Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst), who pushed the state’s tax department to publicize tax debtor lists. Colton’s 47th District is close to one of the biggest business tax delinquents in the borough — Mecca Wholesales Corp. on 62nd Street, which owes over $10 million in back taxes. “We’re demanding that families make all kinds of sacrifices and are in the process of making cuts to schools and nursing homes. It’s not fair for a small group of often wealthy and very powerful individuals and businesses to not pay their taxes.”
Colton, who had put in legislation to demand that the state tax department publicize the list before the agency agreed to do it last week, said that a similar tactic has been used in 21 other states with a modicum of success.
“Connecticut has been able to recoup $200 million since they started,” he said. “Pennsylvania has managed to get $190 million back. In times like this we cannot allow billions of dollars in taxes go uncollected.”
Governor David Paterson said that tax delinquents “shamelessly evade our tax laws, put the entire State in jeopardy and allow others to pay for the vital services they enjoy.”
“By utilizing this website to identify the most egregious offenders, we send a powerful message to those who would seek to benefit from all that New York State has to offer but refuse to contribute their fair share,” the Governor explained.
“Tax warrants are a matter of public record, and our notices to taxpayers inform them of that fact,” said Department of Taxation and Finance Acting Commissioner Jamie Woodward. “Allowing for easy public access to these names is just one more tool we will use in our enforcement program to collect all that is owed in taxes in order for the State to pay for vital services it provides to all New Yorkers.”
The view the full list, one can go to http://www.tax.state.ny.us.
–with Elizabeth Dana