As top-of-the-line office buildings, skyscrapers are meant to impress, as well as to act as displays of the technological capabilities and design trends of their time. And, due to their size, location and prestige, high-tier office properties commonly net some of the highest property taxes in the nation. So, with this year’s tax filing season now behind us, we decided to rank the top 100 office properties that had the highest associated taxes in 2021.
Unsurprisingly, Manhattan dominated the list with 82 of the 100 properties with the highest taxes, including the entire top 10. The remaining entries were shared between Chicago and California, with one entry hailing from Washington, D.C.
Check out the full list of U.S. office properties with the highest taxes below:
General Motors Building is 2021’s Office Property with Highest Taxes
As one of the trophy-class office space capitals of the world — as well as a historic hotspot for commercial development and investment — Manhattan’s prestigious locations also resulted (predictably) in the highest tax values in the nation.
With $75.3 million in taxes in 2021, Midtown’s General Motors Building was the property that paid the most taxes last year — a title it also received several years ago. Situated on an 84,350-square-foot lot and totaling 1.7 million square feet of trophy Manhattan office space, the GM Building is a product of the skyscraper boom of the 1960s and ’70s, just like six other top 10 office properties that are paying the most in taxes. This includes the MetLife building at #2, which had a tax bill of just more than $60 million last year.
The office property with the third-highest tax bill last year was a plot of the Rockefeller Center comprising the International Building, 50 Rockefeller Plaza and 1270 Avenue of the Americas — three Art Deco-style skyscrapers situated between West 50th Street and West 51st Street.
Notably, several other buildings within Rockefeller Center were also among the 100 with the highest taxes. They included 1221 Avenue of the Americas, the News Corporation Building and the Time-Life Building, as well as a lot containing 1 Rockefeller Plaza, 10 Rockefeller Plaza, 20 Rockefeller Plaza and 1230 Avenue of the Americas.
Additionally, one other Art Deco building from the ’30s made the top 10 for taxes in 2021: The Google-owned, full-block 111 Eighth Ave. in Chelsea, which spans 2.9 million square feet of space and had a tax bill of $48.7 million last year. The Empire State Building — arguably the most recognizable Art Deco building in NYC — paid $43 million in taxes in 2021, making it the nation’s 13th-most expensive office property by taxes. Finally, 60 Hudson St. came in at #80 with a 2021 tax bill of $16.5 million, while the Tishman Speyer-managed Chrysler Building is tax-exempt.
15 of 100 Office Properties with Highest Taxes Were Completed in 2000 & Later
One of the newest additions to the Manhattan skyline was also among the 10 office buildings paying the most taxes in the nation: One Vanderbilt — the 93-story skyscraper designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox and completed in Midtown East in 2020 — had a $43.9 million tax bill, while also claiming the title of the newest property among the 100 most taxed last year.
In total, 15 of the 100 office properties with the highest taxes in 2021 were built in the 21st century, with six hailing from New York City, another six from Chicago, and three more from San Francisco and the Bay Area. Granted, some state-of-the-art developments from the last decade were absent from the top 100. They include the tax-exempt One World Trade Center and all properties in the Hudson Yards development.
Meanwhile, 40 of the office buildings with the highest taxes were built between 1960 and 1980, while 11 were built in the ’20s and ’30s. The oldest property in the top was 770 Broadway — a full-block, mixed-use building in NoHo that was completed in 1907 and was initially a department store.
The predominance of towers on our list that were built during the city’s second skyscraper boom can be at least partially attributed to tax exemption policies for newer properties, as well as the sheer lower number of them due to the scarcity of developable land.
Willis Tower & 13 Other Chicago Properties Among Those Paying Most in Taxes
The Willis Tower was the office property with the highest taxes outside of NYC, with a $43 million tax bill last year. And, while the Blackstone-owned property — which some Chicago residents still call the Sears Tower — is the crown jewel of the Windy City’s skyline, it still paid less in taxes than 11 properties in New York City.
Besides Willis Tower, 13 other downtown Chicago office properties also had some of the highest property tax rates in the U.S. The steepest taxes in Chicago after those paid on the Willis Tower were for 300 North LaSalle (a 60-story waterfront tower) and the Post Office at 433 W. Van Buren St., which is a mixed-use redevelopment finalized in 2019.
When only taking into account office properties outside New York City, Chicago recorded 15 out of 20 properties with the highest taxes. At #19, the Field Building cost owner AmTrust Realty $13.7 million in taxes last year while also being the oldest property in this category with its 1934 completion.
Salesforce Tower Was California’s Most-Taxed Office Property in 2021
In downtown San Francisco, the Salesforce Tower owed a tax bill of $30.6 million last year, bringing it to #28 on our overall list and making it the property with the highest tax bill outside of New York City and Chicago. Completed in 2018, the skyscraper is now the city’s tallest building. Tenants making use of its high-tier San Francisco office space include the building’s namesake, Salesforce, as well as WeWork and law firm Covington & Burling.
Another California property that was completed in recent years made the list at #73 — Building 23 of Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters, which opened in 2016. The final Golden State office building on the list was the Park Tower at Transbay — situated two blocks from the Salesforce Tower — which reached #77 with a $16.8 million tax bill.
Other than the entries from NYC, Chicago and the three California entries, Washington, D.C. also recorded one property in the top 100: The Constitution Center, formerly known as the David Nassif Building, had a 2021 tax bill totaling $14.6 million.
We combined PropertyShark and CommercialEdge data with proprietary research to rank the office properties with the highest associated tax rates. In order to ensure the accuracy of the data to the best of our ability, we verified tax values with the Assessor and Tax Treasurer official websites.
Properties with tax exemptions were excluded from the list, and tax rates presented reflect individual parcels.
Cook County properties are taxed in biennial installments, with the tax filing season for the second half of 2021 being expected to begin in Q3 2022. To provide an approximate figure for the total taxes on Cook County office properties in 2021, we estimated the tax bills for properties in the county in the second instalment for 2021 based on the tax evolution between the first and second instalments in previous years. While attempting to make this prediction as accurate as possible, PropertyShark cannot guarantee the accuracy of the total tax bills for Cook County properties in 2021.
- Time Warner Center tax value is formed out a sum of two parcels: 1-01049-1002 & 1-01049-1004.
- 399 Park Ave tax value is formed out a sum of two parcels: 1-01308-1101 & 1-01308-1102.
- Bloomberg Building tax value is formed out a sum of three parcels: 1-01313-1001, 01313-1002 & 1-01313-1003.
- 300 North LaSalle tax value is formed out a sum of two parcels: 17-09-405-008-0000 & 17-09-405-004-0000.
- One North Wacker tax value is formed out of a sum of four parcels: 17-09-454-001-0001 through 17-09-454-008-0000.
- Accenture Tower is formed out a sum of three parcels: 17-09-342-002-0000, 17-09-342-004-0000 & 17-09-342-005-0000.
- River Point tax value is formed out a sum of two parcels: 17-09-306-036-0000 & 17-09-306-033-0000.
- 353 North Clark tax value is formed out a sum of two parcels: 17-09-408-014-0000 & 17-09-408-012-0000.