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Slavery museum revenue, spending increased in 2007 MUSEUM EXPENSES page 2
U.S. National Slavery Museum tax return shows organization in the black for 2007 but raised less than $1 million

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Date published: 11/22/2008


Wilder and Foster have said they had garnered about $50 million in cash and pledges toward constructing a roughly $150 million museum. However, no pledges have ever been listed on the museum's tax returns although there is space to do that.

The only thing standing so far is a garden on the edge of the museum site.

Attempts to speak to Wilder this week were unsuccessful. Foster was not in her office in Central Park during visits there three days this week and once last week.

A public relations firm that had represented the museum said this week that it no longer does so.

In September, the City Council approved Foster's request to extend by one year the deadline to begin construction or restart the permitting process to build a structure taller than is generally allowed at its site.

In October, Commissioner of Revenue Lois B. Jacob denied the museum's request for an exemption from paying real-estate taxes on the land.

That meant the museum owed $21,372.40 on Monday for the first half of its fiscal 2009 real-estate tax bill. It had not been paid as of yesterday, and the museum had accrued $2,136.86 in penalties, according to the city treasurer's office.

In her Oct. 24 letter to museum attorney Charles Payne, Jacob noted that while the slavery museum can be categorized as a nonprofit, Payne provided nothing to show it was operating as a museum or would be doing so in the near future.

"The mere fact that the Taxpayer's name includes the word 'museum,' or that it refers to itself as a museum does not make it a museum," Jacob wrote to Payne.

In making her decision on its tax status, Jacob requested but did not receive documentation that the land would be "developed as a museum in a reasonable time."

She asked for documents showing that construction plans were in place or that finances did not yet allow them.

Without any of that information, she ruled against the museum.

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The U.S. National Slavery Museum reported a total of $527,050 in expenses for 2007. Here are some of the major ones listed on its tax return:

Wages/payroll taxes: $164,009

Exhibition expenses: $124,449

Fundraising events: $34,458

Advertising/marketing: $27,700

Insurance: $26,046

Printing/publications: $23,885

Program events: $20,228

Supplies: $12,678

Travel: $12,659