By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Good deed, unfortunate twist

Michael Paulson reports in today’s Globe that billionaire developer Thomas Flatley has sold a $14 million office building to the Archdiocese of Boston for less than $100. It’s a feel-good story about a dedicated Catholic giving back to his church.

But if I lived in Braintree, I might have a different reaction. Though Paulson’s story doesn’t say, I would imagine that the property will now become tax-exempt. With an assessed value of $14 million and a commercial tax rate (MS Word) of $18.97, the building has been bringing in some $265,000 per year in tax revenue. So that’s a pretty big hit.

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  1. Anonymous

    Not as big a hit as some of the subcontractors took on its construction. Regardless of what he does with his money, Mr. Flatley didn’t make a billion dollars in construction by being warm and fuzzy. I know whereof I speak.

  2. Anonymous

    Also, since the appraised value, (for accounting purposes, depreciation, etc.) is probably half again greater than that, he should be able to shelter about $20 million dollars of income from federal taxes by donation to a “501C-3” charity. Doing well by doing good, as they say.

  3. af

    Whatever the reason for Flatley, the Archdiocese got a good deal, and a good looking building, to boot. From the Globe story, I gathered that it also gives them the opportunity to diminish the title ‘chancery’ which will reduce another part of the autocratic church in the eyes of the public. What I don’t get is why both the church and Flatley refused comment on the transaction. Haven’t they figured out that stonewalling causes more problems than it prevents?

  4. Anonymous

    Believe it or not, Flatley is even more opaque than the church. They at least have (what they perceive as) good works as their fundamental goal. Ferocious survival skills may be part of the game but good works nonetheless. OTOH, Flatley, realizing that his number is almost up,(he has ALS),may be trying to counteract the bad karma his 40 years of buccaneer business practices has produced. Whatever.

  5. MeTheSheeple

    Maybe it’s just me, but why even make a fuss about the $10 transactions? It’s a donation, not a discount. The $10 transaction is a rounding error brought on by lawyers. The story is structured around a “deep discount,” but deep discount is what you get when you sell a new Toyota to someone for $1,000. This is a donation.

  6. MeTheSheeple

    Slight tweaks: Building is assessed at $14,351,900 via assessors/Patriot Properties. Collectors’ office lists tax rate (presumably for bills going out in January) as $19.17 mills commercial. Total hit looks to be then around $275,126.Mayor’s pushing for a level-funded budget.Great catch, Dan.

  7. Sean Roche

    Another unfortunate twist: the new building is not T-accessible.

  8. Anonymous

    All property should be taxable.Bob in Peabody

  9. Anonymous

    “Total hit looks to be then around $275,126.” Not to beat a dead horse but if you won $20 million (building’s market value)in the Lottery, your contribution to the IRS would be a heck of a lot more than 275k. Federal taxpayers took an even bigger hit than those of Braintree, well into 7 figures. Think of that when you sit down with H&R Block this year.

  10. Peter Porcupine

    DK – to revert what you wrote about -I have long advocated making all property owned by eleemosynary instutions taxable, save actual sanctuary and campus. All investment property, especially that which is rented out for business purposes, should be taxed as ordinary property.IMAGINE what that would do for the Boston/Cambridge tax base! Maybe they could cease draining the General Fund for their municipal operations!

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