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More than 90 percent of respondents to this week's RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say tax reduction is important to reviving the upstate economy, with 73 percent saying it is very important.
Nearly three-quarters favor broad-based cuts over targeted cuts to spur job creation.
Two state Senate committees have been conducting hearings statewide on how New York's tax policies might be changed to reduce the burden on taxpayers and spur job creation. The testimony at the hearings will be used to develop tax reform proposals that lawmakers will recommend to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Among other issues, the panels are examining the question of broad-based versus targeted tax cuts. The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, believes state residents "would be best served by broad-based tax cuts that could help all businesses grow and create jobs in New York State." He and others who share this view say the state has increasingly turned to programs such as the recently enacted START-UP NY law, which creates tax-free zones around colleges and universities.
They say the result is an increasingly complex tax system that favors some taxpayers over others and encourages businesses to relocate to states with lower overall rates.
Those who support targeted breaks say they are necessary to boost economic development in Upstate New York and other regions hit hard by the decline of manufacturing and the recent recession. Describing the START-UP NY plan, Cuomo said, "We desperately need to jump-start the upstate economy, and these new tax-free communities will give New York an edge like we've never had before when it comes to attracting businesses, startups and new investment."
More than 550 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
In your view, how important is tax reduction to reviving the upstate economy?
Very important: 73%
Somewhat important: 19%
Not very important: 5%
Not at all important: 3%
In terms of tax reduction to spur job creation, do you favor broad-based or targeted cuts?
Broad-based cuts: 74%
Targeted cuts: 26%
Before the Reagan tax cuts, there were the Kennedy tax cuts. Kennedy championed his cuts with the phrase, "A rising tide raises all boats." A broad-based tax cut is the fairest and stimulates the most. We are a consumer-driven economy, and the more money the consumers have, the more the economy is driven. People spend their money much more efficiently for themselves than the government spends their money for them. My son once asked me what the difference was between a Republican and a Democrat. I told him that Republicans let you spend your own money the way you want to, and Democrats take your money and spend it for you. He replied, "Dad, why do you treat me like a Republican and Mom treats me like a Democrat?”
—Clifford Jacobson M.D., Vanguard Psychiatric Services
Cutting any New York tax is a great idea! We have way too many. A tax cut should be equally applied to every business. While we are at it, business-averse rules and regulations and awful laws (the Triborough amendment comes to mind as one) should also be scrapped! And state spending needs to be cut to allow this to happen. It's the only thing they have not tried, yet it is the obvious solution!
—George Thomas, Ogden
How could you even ask the question? The state has been overtaxed for many, many years. There is no hope for an economic revival without broad-based tax cuts and/or fracking.
The governor has recognized that lower (or no) taxes generate investment and job creation by initiating his zero-tax policy on select college campuses. Low-tax, low-cost states (like Texas) are job creators. New York is a job destroyer.
There are people who study tax policy as a profession. I am not one of them. Having said that, my observation is that states that have the lowest business tax burdens attract businesses, which attract people, who in turn attract amenities. While I believe that a strong educational system is important, my property taxes in Mendon are 7.5 times what they were in Kansas City, Mo. New York is almost always at the top of any tax burden list, whether personal or business. That can’t help in attracting business and jobs. I believe if New York State moved to the middle third of all states regarding tax burden, it would flourish.
—Brad VanAuken, president, Brand Forward Inc.
Targeted cuts to be determined by business execs, not politicians—someone in the "trenches" with some common business sense and knowledge of what is actually needed.
—Ed Rosen, Fairport
Cut government bureaucracy. Cut social services. Cut government employee benefits. Eliminate double dipping (Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy). Eliminate union protection of unlawful, incompetent employees. Institute a 20 percent budget cut across the board. Let working people keep the money they earn. Let businesses keep the money they earn. A broad-based tax cut is in order. The targeted version should be directed toward school and property taxes.
Targeted tax cut programs have failed for 30 years; the latest version tied to SUNY schools is just another repackaging and will also fail. If Cuomo is serious about creating jobs, he has to lower direct taxes on business and also the indirect taxes like the utility excise charges, which together make New York one of the most expensive places in the country to do business. Until then, all these economic development councils are just political boosterism.
Targeted cuts allow the government to choose who succeeds and who fails. Why not let all businesses benefit from the cuts and use the savings as they see fit to benefit their business?
—Louise Kuipers, Erdman Anthony
Yes, broad-based tax cuts are desperately needed to keep businesses in this state. However, they must be accompanied by service cuts, program cuts and cuts in government employment to really make an impact. New York does not have to be the leader in taxes and entitlement programs. Let’s benchmark with other states and get us down the list in taxes and services.
—Bob Worden, Penn Yan
Unless we find a way to create meaningful jobs, tax cuts will continue to remain useless. No income, there are no tax payments! Just that simple!
—J.A. DePaolis, Penfield
Tax something if you want less of it. That is pretty much what we have done to business in New York State over the last 30 years. Our state, and especially the Rochester area, has so many positives for businesses. If we truly want more and growing businesses that employ people and create wealth, broad-based tax cuts would certainly help.
—Doug Lyon, Lyon Capital Management
To revive the upstate economy, broad-based tax reduction is needed. However, if job creation is the goal, target tax reduction should suffice.
—Patrick Ho, Rochester Optical
Obviously a broad-based tax cut will be one step in reviving the upstate economy that is already on life support. However, one needs to believe in miracles to expect any possibility of this happening without some other hidden "offsets" from the present administration.
—Jim Weisbeck, Bloomfield
I think it's more of an issue of complex regulations that aren't streamlined and simplified.
There should be capital gains cuts and accelerated write-offs for new ventures. New technology companies. New startups. New construction. Let the private sector finance growth and steer us all into being better off.
New York and especially Upstate New York are extremely difficult to do business in due to high taxes and over-the-top regulations on business. Reducing the cost of business is very important to remain competitive and attract businesses and citizens rather than lose them. I know many people who leave New York and go to Florida as fast as they can to avoid New York’s tax burden. It's not just Tom Golisano who does this.
I'd prefer if property taxes were just cut 20 percent across the board over anything else.
New York rates among the worst in the country for doing business. States that have lower taxes and less regulation have better economies.
—Todd Black, Black's Hardware
The federal tax system is replete with tax breaks for often narrowly focused groups. I am not sure how far the New York State tax code has gone down that road but would discourage either its start or continuance.
—Roy Kiggins, Seneca Falls
I'm certain I will not be the only person to comment thus, but "tax reduction" generally is a very important factor, so long as it includes income and property tax relief. Another factor keeping investment (and potential state residents) away is the high cost of utilities in this state, which are, if not the highest in the nation, close. All three of these factors are enough to prevent a serious-minded business owner from relocating from out of New York and in fact have driven away many businesses and longtime residents from New York.
It's ironic that you ask the voting public if tax cuts are necessary, which they are, yet each and every year the public votes to raise its own taxes by approving—usually overwhelmingly—new school tax increases. People complain heatedly that taxes are too high! But then they vote to have them increased. Maybe you should rephrase your question as such: “New York has some of the highest taxes in the country, which stifles growth and opportunity. New Yorkers complain incessantly that taxes are too high. So why each year do New Yorkers vote to approve school tax increases?”
—Michael Thornton, Penfield
Politicians and government bureaucrats should educate themselves by reading basic economic principles of world renown economists such as Milt Friedman, Art Laffer, etc., who have the right formula. In order to have a vibrant economy, taxes have to be reduced across the board and at the same time bloated government bureaucracy has to be reduced. This will put the economic resources in the hands of the consumer and private sector that are much more efficient than government. I don’t think anyone could disagree that the government class is out of control and inefficiently squandering our resources by overusing Keynesian economic theory. In fact, even John Maynard Keynes would be disgusted by how current government abuses his economic theory. If Milt Friedman and Art Laffer’s formulas are followed; economic vitality will occur, tax revenues will actually increase, and necessary government programs will be flush with cash.
—John Rynne, president, Rynne, Murphy & Associates Inc.
Targeted tax cuts just shift the tax burden to existing companies. So while the governor is wining and dining one or two new companies, the existing companies are leaving by threes and fours out the back door! Further, this scheme of giving tax breaks to companies that threaten to leave is fraught with problems as well. Chief among them is that any CEO who is NOT threatening to leave—should be fired! I mean why aren't you getting a tax break for your share owners? The only reasonable solution is to lower the water for everyone. There is a problem with this, however, and that is you have to start spending LESS. As long as the Democrats are in power, spending less (not just reducing the growth) will never happen.
—Jerry Lighthouse, C.P.M., CPIM Advanced Purchasing Technology, LLC
While both New York State individual and corporate taxes are too high, I think that tax reduction has to be aimed first at corporations in a manner designed to encourage verifiable job growth. The current LDC or UDC experiments have not been verified/successful. When a corporation promises jobs in return for targeted tax relief, there should be a claw-back when they fail to deliver. However, jobs are created by corporations and corporations are not attracted to New York State due to several factors, one of which is the level of taxes and fees.
—Wayne Donner, Rush
Taxes should be reformed to be more progressive. The replacement of the Fair Share Income Tax with lower taxes for the wealthiest New Yorkers has done nothing for job creation or income inequality in New York. Neither has increasing the billions in subsidies to business, just look at the before and after numbers. Increased income at the bottom and middle increase demand and fuel our economy. In addition, California and Vermont are moving past Obamacare to single-payer, Medicare for all health care. The largest costs for business is the cost of for-profit health care included in school and property taxes, workers comp, public pensions, etc. Lastly, re-examine all the properties off the tax rolls. Whether religious or other non-profits, they use the services such as maintaining infrastructure, police and fire. Making everyone else pay the fair share for these institutions requires the rest of us to subsidize religions and others we have a right not to subsidize.
—Jim Bertolone, president, Rochester AFL-CIO
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