Bloomberg Tax
Feb. 6, 2020, 5:00 PM

NYC Mayor Pushes Vacant-Storefront Tax to Aid Small Business

John Herzfeld
John Herzfeld
Staff Correspondent

New York City landlords with empty storefronts would face a vacancy tax intended to prod them into leasing the space to small businesses, under a proposal being developed by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The plan, which would come out as a formal proposal by the end of 2020, is part of a package of initiatives to support small businesses to be unveiled Thursday in the Democratic mayor’s State of the City address. Other items include a city credit fund for low-interest loans, penalty relief for code-violation first offenses, and free lawyers to help low-income business owners negotiate commercial leases.

  • De Blasio said that by the time his administration ends in 2022 the city will have cut small-business fines by 50% or more, providing more than $26 million in relief.
  • City Council passed a law (Local Law 2019/157) in July requiring landlords to register the status of their retail space and to update it as businesses come and go.
  • A city planning commission analysis in August found storefront vacancy rates as high as 20% in some retail sections of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

—With assistance from Henry Goldman (Bloomberg) in New York

To contact the reporter on this story: John Herzfeld in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeff Harrington at; Kathy Larsen at