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Millionaires to NYS: Tax Us, Please

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Since 2009, the number of millionaires in the Empire State has increased by more than 60%. (SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Stock)
Since 2009, the number of millionaires in the Empire State has increased by more than 60%. (SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Stock)
 By Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY - Producer, Contact
March 8, 2021

NEW YORK -- More than four dozen New York millionaires have signed a letter to state lawmakers with a proposal to help the state recover from the economic impact of the pandemic: tax the rich.

The COVID pandemic has cost millions of New Yorkers their jobs and will leave an estimated $63 billion gap in the state budget over the next four years.

In their letter, the millionaires say the state should enact the taxes that are part of the proposed Invest in Our New York Act.

Mike Lapham, director of the Responsible Wealth project at United for a Fair Economy, said raising taxes on high incomes, billionaires, large inheritances, corporations, stock sales and capital gains could close that gap.

"The whole package could be as much as $50 billion a year," Lapham asserted. "It's not likely that they'll all get passed, but there's a lot of money there that could help the state and that wealthy people can afford to pay."

Some lawmakers claim if taxes are raised on the rich, they would move to a state with lower taxes, but Responsible Wealth said studies have shown that's not true.

Lapham pointed out since New York increased taxes on the rich in 2009, the number of millionaires who call the state home has actually risen by more than 60%.

"The reality is if you have a business, if you have a whole community, if you have been living in this state for years, you're not going to just up and move to some other state because your taxes go up by a few thousand dollars a year," Lapham contended.

In their letter to lawmakers, the millionaires said in fact they are the least likely to move because their taxes go up.

Lapham noted a one-time infusion of federal cash can't fix the state's long-term economic problems, but the wealthiest state residents have a vested interest in raising the standard of living for all New Yorkers.

"They are profoundly interested in having a healthy state to live in and having the state invest in things like public education, transportation and infrastructure," Lapham observed.

He added taxing those who can afford to pay will not only fill the budget gap, but reverse decades of growing economic inequality and make New York a state that works for everyone.

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