Reactions: Cuomo Plans Simplifying NY Tax Code

Jan 7, 2014

Governor Andrew Cuomo says he wants to simplify New York's tax code by striking provisions he calls a nuisance, such as the boxing and wrestling exhibitions tax, a tax on agricultural cooperatives and the stock transfer tax.

Cuomo's proposals are part of a larger tax effort unveiled Monday that includes corporate income tax cuts and property tax freezes. Senate and Assembly leaders are all-for tax relief. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver dubbed Cuomo's initiative a "bold vision" while Senate co-leader Dean Skelos says he is encouraged by the Governor's remarks.

Fred Floss with the Fiscal Policy Institute applauds the Governor for his circuit-breaker credit. "I think if you look at the property tax burdens, particularly in Long Island and many parts of upstate, that, now is a good time, particularly when many families who have been hurt by the banking crises where they've seen their housing prices drop that's caused to put them into great distress, this is good news for them and the least the Governor can do."

Brian Sampson, Executive Director of Unshackle Upstate has some concerns when it comes to the circuit-breaker approach to providing property-tax relief.   "What we'd much rather see is more significany mandate relief. I think part of the concern we have relative to what was proposed on property taxes is that it will allow the legislature to forego any new initiative to decrease the cost of mandates on our local government units."

Ron Deutsch, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, calls providing gratuitous tax cuts for millionaires counterproductive.  He argues the Governor’s estate tax restructuring proposal to give hundreds of millions in relief to the wealthiest 200 families in the state is unconscionable and misguided. 

"We need to realize that New York has the greatest income inequality of any state in the nation. We have record hunger, record poverty, record homelessness.Those are issues that need to be addressed for everyday New Yorkers and to improve the quality of life across the state. Unfortunately this Governor is ignoring those issues and instead focusing on providing corporate welfare to the top one percent of profitable corporations in NewYork. So we think we need to reverse that paradigm and start looking out for the most vulnerable citizens in this state."

Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, contends that  Cuomo’s tax plan front-loads tax breaks for banks and wealthy estate owners with money that classrooms sorely need.  "The Governor is proposing to eliminate taxes on banks and to give the average millionaire estate owner $128,000 in taxpayer subsidies. Instead, it would make more sense to spend this money on libraries and teachers in our kids' schools."

Jessica Wisneski, the legislative and campaigns director of Citizen Action of New York is on the same page: "How many times does history have to prove that tax breaks for business and the wealthy don't help working and middle class New Yorkers? If the state's leaders really want to reduce property taxes, they should adequately fund our schools and municipal services - not give away precious state dollars to corporations and those inheriting multi-millions. We need a tax plan that works for all of us, not more voodoo economics."

Cuomo says he also wants to raise the threshold for the filing of a personal income tax return from $4,000 to the level of the taxpayer's standard deduction. He said that would eliminate the need for 270,000 taxpayers to file a return.

The governor’s tax-cutting plan will be announced formally in his State of the State address in Albany Wednesday.