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NY Tax Talk Turns from “Nuisance” to New Brackets

March 13, 2009

Albany, NY – A so-called "millionaire’s tax" is on the table in Albany, now that "iTunes taxes" and "soda taxes" are off. Following Governor Paterson’s agreement with legislative leaders to eliminate proposed "nuisance" taxes, education activists are applauding, and arguing for income tax reform. The governor had proposed taxes on things like music downloads, non-diet sodas and haircuts, but those faded late last week. Now, the state legislature is looking at the thorny issue of raising income taxes on those earning in excess of $250,000 a year.

Billy Easton, the executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, hopes an increase in revenue can forestall cuts to education, and he likes the idea of a higher rate for higher incomes.

"Currently, a police officer making forty thousand dollars a year, with a family, is in the same tax bracket as Donald Trump. That makes absolutely no sense."

The Alliance is a statewide non-profit coalition of over 230 organizations. Easton, says the group didn’t have a position on the so-called nuisance taxes, but they were – in his opinion – distracting the Governor and the legislature.

"That was creating a logjam in the process that has been now resolved and now they can move on to focus on other issues."

Opponents say raising income taxes on upper incomes would only exacerbate the state’s financial problems by making wealthy New Yorkers more likely to relocate to less-expensive states.

Hearings on changes in the personal income tax system were held Friday in the Senate Select Committee on Budget and Tax Reform.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY