Have you filed your New York personal income taxes for 2010?  If so, you’ve just been reminded once again of how complex and confusing our state tax code has become.

I described the problem in this article a few years ago:

[Since 1995], the IT-201 (New York’s long form) has swelled to four pages – twice as many as the federal 1040 form. This doesn’t include the extra paperwork needed to claim any of New York’s 34 separate income-tax credits, which have spread like weeds over the last dozen years.

Though computer software like Turbo Tax has eased tax preparation for many, New York’s dizzying array of tax exclusions and options still poses more than its share of brain-teasers for filers who want to make sure they are taking advantage of every break available to them. Most of us can safely assume we’re not eligible for items like the Biofuel Production Credit, the Fuel Cell Electrical Generating Credit, the Brownfield Redevelopment Credit, the Security Officer Training Tax Credit, the Historic Barn Credit or the Employment Incentive Credit (which is not to be confused with the Employment Incentive Credit for the Financial Services Industry).

But what is one to make of the Accumulation Distribution Credit? If you have a furnace in your basement, might you qualify for the Home Heating System Credit or the Residential Fuel Oil Storage Credit?

If you bought a house last year, should you claim the Special Additional Mortgage Reporting Tax Credit? Can parents of young children who qualify for the new Empire State Child Credit also continue to claim the Dependent and Child Care Credit?

The only way to know for sure is to read the fine print – and even then, the answer may be elusive.


New York’s growing tax complexity is not the work of bureaucrats but of politicians … [S]tate legislators have increasingly used the tax code as a vehicle to promote their social-policy goals and to reward taxpayers who engage in approved behaviors. After implementing an historic tax cut, Gov. George Pataki made a few of his own dubious contributions to the lengthening list of state tax credits.

And to make matters worse, middle-income New Yorkers have been subject to growing stealth tax hikes ever since the state’s last broad-based tax cuts were (supposedly) completed in 1997.

Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature should (a) get out the weed-whacker, eliminating New York’s thicket of narrowly targeted tax breaks, (b) “index” the tax code to adjust for inflation, and (c) impose lower rates on a broader taxable income base, all of which will (d) simplify matters for the beleaguered New York tax filer.

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

Voters Reject a Pair of Tax Cap-Breaching School Budgets

New York school districts whose budgets were defeated yesterday can hold a re-vote in June on the same proposal or a modified one Read More

State Spending Ante Upped by ‘One House’ Budgets

State spending will rise next year billions beyond what Governor Hochul proposed in her January budget, if the Senate and Assembly have their way. Read More

New Poll: Taxes are Top Reason Residents Looking to Leave New York

High taxes are the top reason New Yorkers are considering or making plans to move out of the state, according to a new Zogby poll. Read More

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

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

Tax hike and huge spending increase seem likely in next NY budget

New York state today began its 2022 fiscal year without an adopted budget—which, in itself, is not a big deal. The state government can continue to pay bills and employee salaries next week if either final appropriations Read More

DiNapoli Predicts $3.8B More in State Tax Receipts

New York State's tax receipts in the current fiscal year will exceed Governor Cuomo's latest projections by $3.8 billion—still down from last year, but a big improvement over the governor's worst-case scenario—according to updated estimates from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office. Read More

With Hopes Dashed for “Blue Wave” Bailout, Cuomo Needs to Deal With Budget Shortfall

With the national election results still unclear, Governor Cuomo can no longer put off tough decisions on how to balance New York's pandemic-ravaged state budget. Read More


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


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


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!