Fines are piling up for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) over her failure to resolve a New York state tax warrant filed against her defunct business five years ago.
New York state filed a tax warrant against Brook Avenue Press, a children-focused publishing house Ocasio-Cortez founded in 2012, on July 6, 2017, to collect $1,618 in unpaid corporate taxes. Ocasio-Cortez has yet to pay a penny of her overdue corporate taxes, causing the current balance of the tax warrant to swell by 52% to $2,461 as of Wednesday afternoon.
New York dissolved Brook Avenue Press in October 2016, state corporate records show. The state filed its tax warrant against Ocasio-Cortez’s defunct business about two months after she launched her successful primary campaign against former Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY).
A representative for the Bronx County Clerk’s Office confirmed that the tax warrant against Ocasio-Cortez’s business remains open.
Ocasio-Cortez’s office previously told the New York Post in March 2019 that the lawmaker first learned of the tax warrant against her former business after she was sworn into Congress in January that year.
Ocasio-Cortez initially pledged to repay her delinquent corporate tax bill, but her office later said the warrant was issued “in error” and that she was contesting the matter.
“The congresswoman is still in the process of contesting the tax warrant. The business has been closed for several years now, and so we believe that the state Tax Department has continued to collect the franchise tax in error,” Ocasio-Cortez spokeswoman Lauren Hitt told the New York Post in May 2020.
“As anyone who’s tried to contest a tax bill in error knows, it takes time,” Hitt said.
Ocasio-Cortez identified herself as the founder of Brook Avenue Press in her 2018 financial disclosure filed with the House.
It’s not clear whether Ocasio-Cortez is still contesting the tax bill or if she intends to pay what her former business owes to the state.
Ocasio-Cortez presumably has the means to pay back her overdue business taxes. The lawmaker has raked in a combined $522,000 before taxes from her congressional salary during her first three years in the House of Representatives.
In one of her first moves as a member of Congress, Ocasio-Cortez called for tax rates up to 70% for high-income earners to fund her sweeping Green New Deal climate policy proposal.
She also made headlines when she wore a white gown emblazoned with “Tax the Rich” in bold red text to the Met Gala in September 2021.
The woman who designed the dress, Aurora James, is no stranger to New York state tax warrants. James’s company has been hit with 15 state tax warrants since 2015, three of which were due to its failure to withhold income taxes totaling nearly $15,000 from its employees.
In 2012, long before Ocasio-Cortez entered politics, she warned against the detrimental effects that taxes have on small business owners.
“You don’t really make a profit in your first year,” Ocasio-Cortez told DNAinfo in 2012 around the time she launched Brook Avenue Press. “To get taxed on top of that is a real whammy.”