Although the protesters encamped at Zuccotti Park have been criticized for their amorphous political demands, another group of union-backed activists delivered a clear message to Albany today: “Tax the rich!”
A coalition of organizations called “99 New York” held a press conference Monday to pressure New York legislators to renew the “millionaires’ tax” on the state’s top earners that is set to expire by the end of the year.
“The public is fed up,” said Ron Deutsch, of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, one of the press conference organizers. “People are taking it to the streets right now.”
Despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resistance to renewing the tax, it seems that “99 New York” is right on the money as far as the public is concerned. A new Siena College poll shows that nearly three-quarters of New York residents support a personal income tax for individuals who make more than $1 million per year.
Under current tax regulations, those who earn more than $200,000 per year must pay the millionaires’ tax. The surcharge was passed in 2009 under then-Gov. David Paterson as a temporary way to fill the budget gap at the peak of the recession.
The Occupy Wall Street protests have breathed new life into the call for a millionaires’ tax. A group called “99 NY” kicks off its campaign today to block the December expiration of the tax in New York and, according to a new poll, the public is behind them. The Capitol Report’s Susan Arbetter reports.
The renewed push in Albany comes at a time when Senate Democrats in Washington are trying to enact a federal-level millionaires’ tax to fund President Barack Obama’s jobs bill. The latest iteration of that plan calls for a .5 percent tax on those who make more than $1 million per year, a decrease from the original call for a 5.6 percent tax on millionaires.
Cuomo said he supports the federal millionaires’ tax but argues that renewing the state level tax would dull New York’s competitive edge, forcing business and jobs to outsource to other states.
“I think you are kidding yourself if you think you can be one of the highest taxed states in the nation, have a reputation for being anti-business and have a rosy economic future,” Cuomo said at a press conference Monday, according to the Daily News.
For New York State coffers, the millionaires’ tax pays off, bringing in an estimated $14.3 billion during the 2009-2010 fiscal year, according to USA Today.
New York’s neighbors have taken varying approaches to the tax. In New Jersey, Republican Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a renewal of a similar millionaires’ tax passed by the previous administration. Meanwhile in Connecticut, Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy helped to pass the largest tax increase in that state’s history, according to the Hartford Courant — although tax rates there are still lower than in New York.