Saturday, October 22, 2011

What's the Millionaire's Tax Got to Do With It?

What's the Millionaire's Tax Got to Do With It?

Governor Andrew Cuomo once again this week took pains to promise to protect New York's billionaires and millionaires from a small surcharge on the income tax they pay. It would be OK with the Gov. if Obama pushes for a millionaire's tax, but Cuomo said he will watch the back of his wealthy friends here in New York.

The top state tax bracket in New York pays 6.85 percent of income. To enter this bracket and pay the same rate as the millionaires and billionaires a single New Yorker needs to make only $20,001 and a married couple only $40,001 in a year. This means that you and I are in the same income tax bracket as David Koch, Donald Trump, Michael Bloomberg and Sandra Lee.

As a response to the recession of 2008 a temporary surcharge was added in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Two new top tax brackets were created. One was a 7.85% income tax for single people making over $200,000 and married taxpayers making $300,000. The top bracket of 8.97% was added for those with over $500,000 in annual income.

This temporary surcharge will expire at the end of 2011, three quarters of the way through fiscal year 2011-2012. To allow it to expire will mean that New York will have nearly a flat tax on income, far from a fair tax structure.

Even with the income tax surcharge, New York's wealthiest 1 percent pay the smallest taxes as a percentage of total income. The top 1 percent pays 8.4 percent of household income in New York, while the most heavily taxed in our state pay 11.6 percent of income in taxes! The most heavily taxed are those of us in the middle, with household incomes between $33,000 and $56,000 a year.

The Governor's decision to embrace an unjust, upside-down tax policy is vapid enough. What's truly sick is that by defending his millionaires and billionaires from a continuance of this tax in 2012, the Governor will deprive the state of $1 billion in fiscal year 2011-2012 and $5 billion in fiscal year 2012-2013.

$1 billion is more than twice as much money as Cuomo demanded from the public employee unions in contract givebacks!

$5 billion is more than ten times as much money as Cuomo demanded from public employees!

There is absolutely NO fiscal excuse for Cuomo's demand for concessions and NO responsible excuse for his layoffs of New York's public employees. We are middle class public servants who have been unjustly demonized. Now we've been abused by the Governor.

Will protecting a tiny splinter of the wealth of New York's billionaires and millionaires really help launch Cuomo into the White House? Or might sound fiscal policy perhaps do it better? The Governor has made his choice and he has chosen the millionaires.

A NO vote on our contract means that we reject the Governor's lifeless embrace of the old Reagan-Bush-Pataki agenda of tax breaks for the wealthiest.

A NO vote means we are prepared to continue to stand up, to fight for fairness, for ourselves and for all New Yorkers.

Tax the rich. Make them pay their share. NO to givebacks and NO to layoffs!

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