New York’s coming stealth tax hikes

| New York Post Editorial

Hard up for cash, Gov. Cuomo is trying to sneak through a $1.5 billion “stealth” income-tax hike — on top of $1 billion in other tax bumps.

As Empire Center fiscal expert E.J. McMahon notes, key parts of New York’s tax law are pegged to the federal model, which changed sharply last month. Yet Cuomo isn’t calling for simple fixes in state law to protect New York taxpayers from paying more.

Because New York’s law includes “references to the federal code,” McMahon warns, “leaving it unchanged would raise” personal-income taxes in New York “by a net $1.54 billion a year.”

The figure, based on a state Department of Taxation and Finance study, includes:

  •  $400 million as a result of the $10,000 federal cap on the property-tax write-off.
  •  $840 million from single-filers who’d have to take a lower standard deduction on their state returns.
  •  $44 million from residents who’ll no longer itemize deductions on their federal returns and so can’t do so on state returns.
  •  $281 million from the loss of “miscellaneous” deductions.

“After weeks of attacking the [federal] cap on [the state- and local-tax write-off] as ‘devastating’ and ‘an economic missile’ aimed at New York, the governor’s budget aims a very similar missile at his own taxpayers,” notes McMahon.

And those who get squeezed are the very same people hit by the federal changes.

For most New Yorkers, the federal reforms include goodies that more than offset the loss of deductions, such as lower tax rates, a near-doubling of the standard deduction, a larger child-tax credit and a higher threshold for the alter­native-minimum tax.

Adding up all the tax and fee increases that the gov does spell out (hitting health insurers, opioid and internet sales, businesses) and the “stealth” hike, McMahon puts new taxes at $3 billion for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Ouch.

A Cuomo spokesman Thursday said the gov’s team is “thinking about” the problem and may yet propose fixes to address it. What’s to think about? The last thing New Yorkers need is … more taxes.