occupy-albany-300x221-7932691Just a few weeks ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was trying to get the “Occupy Albany” tent people arrested.  This week, he hasn’t just caved to their main demand—he’s also begun to sound more like them.

As noted here the other day, the governor has begun to spout the kind of misleading descriptions of the state income tax code favored by Occupy participants and other tax hike advocates. The trend continues in today’s blast email from the Executive Chamber, touting Cuomo’s tax-hike deal with the Legislature.

The subject line is “Restoring Fairness to Our Economy,” a theme repeated in the heart of the message:

Governor Cuomo is proposing a bold and innovative plan to stimulate our economy, create jobs, and restore fundamental fairness to our economic system. [emphasis added]

So in other words, just as the Occupy tenters claim, our economic system is currently “unfair.” **Not just “unfair” but fundamentally unfair.** Except … now, Cuomo is going to change that. Specifically, in one fell swoop, he will “restore fundamental fairness” to the economy through the “bold and innovative” expedient of (a) extending a $2.6 billion income tax hike on high-income earners, (b) redistributing $690 million of the proceeds in a helicopter drop to the middle-class, and (c) spending a comparatively measly $100 to $150 million on regional flood relief and a jobs program for low-income teens.

And then there’s this, from the same email:

The state’s current tax code places an undue burden on our middle class. With the Governor’s reforms, 4.4 million New Yorkers would receive a tax cut, including a reduction of hundreds of millions of dollars for middle class taxpayers. [emphasis added]

Taxes should be lower, to be sure. But as for where the burden falls, consider the following 2011-12 Executive Budget chart depicting the distribution of taxpayers, tax liability and income as of 2008, the last year before the massive temporary “millionaire tax” was enacted:

screen-shot-2011-12-07-at-34938-pm-2595423

Undue for who?

These figures, mind you, are from a year in which incomes in the top brackets absolutely tanked.

Note: the burden doesn’t become “undue” — i.e., percentage tax liability exceeding percentage of filers and AGI — until income hits $100,000. Effective rates for households with incomes in the low six-figures, which would count as middle class by downstate standards, were driven up by the enactment 20 years ago of New York’s unique “benefit recapture” provision.  But Cuomo’s vaunted tax reform won’t fix it.

Or consider this chart, illustrating the effective New York State personal income tax burden on families of four at different income levels:

taxburden-6914780

The effective rate for a family with $1 million of income is more than double the rate for a family with $60,000 to $70,000, and more than triple the rate for a family with income of $50,000.

And here’s a chart (from 2006 tax department data) showing the undeniably progressive distribution of the state income tax across payers of all types:

pit-chart-6861800

In fact, New York State’s permanent code, the one Cuomo implies has been “unfair,” is actually among the most progressive in the nation — not just according to the respected centrist group Icited in this post, but to the left-of-center authors of this study, which includes this chart (from page 3):

screen-shot-2011-12-07-at-41224-pm-400x223-7511260

Some senators seem like Cuomo’s spin, though.

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

Sales Tax Receipts Surge Statewide, Filling Local Government Coffers

Local governments across every region of the state raked in robust sales tax collections during the three months that ended on June 30th Read More

The Health Department’s FOIL Responses Signal an Indefinite Wait for Pandemic Data

The quest for comprehensive data on New York's coronavirus pandemic hit a bureaucratic roadblock this week Read More

A Study of COVID-19 in Nursing Homes Raises Doubt About New York’s Minimum Staffing Law

A newly published study of COVID-19 in nursing homes links larger numbers of employees to higher rates of infection and death for residents – raising fresh doubts about New York's recently enacted "safe staffing" law. Read More

Health Research Inc. Turns Over its Payroll Records Despite Claiming To Be Exempt from FOIL

The full payroll records of more than 2,400 de facto state employees are available to the public for the first time after being released by Health Research Inc. Read More

Remote Threat 

Remote work and a more mobile professional class will increase the speed and scope of New York's ongoing out migration. Read More

New York’s State Share of Medicaid Spending is Due to Jump 22 Percent This Fiscal Year

The state share of Medicaid spending is projected to jump 22 percent under the recently approved state budget, an unusually steep one-year jump for what is already one of New York's biggest expenditures. Read More

The Public Can Now See the Vaccine Task Force Recommendations that the Cuomo Administration Held Back

Even as Governor Cuomo touted vaccine approvals by a state-appointed panel of experts, his office was withholding the group's detailed findings from public view. The governor's six- Read More

New York’s Medicaid and Public Health Crises Get Short Shrift in the New State Budget

In spite of an ongoing pandemic and spiraling Medicaid costs, New York's health-care system received surprisingly little attention in the new state budget. On issue after issue, law Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!