Here is one thing that former President Bill Clinton and I have in common: We both clearly realize that now is NOT the time to be raising taxes. In fact, here is what President Clinton recently said about proposed federal tax hikes: "Should you raise taxes on anybody right today - rich or poor or middle class? No, because there's no growth in the economy."
President Clinton got this one 100 percent correct. In such a tough economy and with over 700,000 New Yorkers out of work, increasing taxes will do even more harm and send the wrong message to private sector job creators. Unfortunately, some liberal politicians in Albany disagree and actually want to bring back New York's "Success Tax" surcharge. This is a bad idea. Never in recorded history has a civilization ever taxed itself to prosperity.
Even though we were able to defeat an attempted extension of the Success Tax in the 2011-12 State Budget and stop its passage as stand-alone legislation, there has been renewed talk of reinstituting the Success Tax in 2012. You may recall that the Success Tax surcharge was originally part of $10 billion in new taxes and fees that were enacted as part of the 2009-10 State Budget. I led the fight against that misguided spending plan and now want to make certain the Success Tax is history, ancient history.
ALBANY HAS A SPENDING PROBLEM, NOT A REVENUE PROBLEM
Supporters of the Success Tax will argue, mistakenly, that state government faces a revenue problem and needs "just a little bit more" of your hard-earned taxpayer dollars to operate. Baloney! The total 2011-12 enacted State Budget (all funds) was $131.2 billion. For a frame of reference, $131.2 billion is roughly enough money to buy eight state-of-the-art aircraft carriers - or 33 General Motors buildings. Does it sound like New York State is cash strapped to you? The truth is that Albany has more than enough money to meet state government's basic obligations and still fund the essential programs New Yorkers count on. Albany does not have a revenue problem - it has a spending problem.
TRUTH ABOUT TAXES: WHO REALLY PAYS, WHY SUCCESS TAXES FAIL
As the only Legislative Leader in state government with a business background and 25 years experience in the private sector, I know what built New York's economy: hard work, innovation, risk taking and sacrifice.
These very same things will get our economy moving again and help put unemployed New Yorkers back to work. Accordingly, here are some basic facts about state tax policy that Success Tax supporters are either unaware of, or simply do not want you to know. Let's call it "Taxes 101" and class is now in session:
According to the State Department of Taxation and Finance, those with incomes exceeding $200,000 account for 5.5 percent of taxpayers in New York State, yet they pay 54 percent of total Personal Income Tax receipts;
Less than 1 percent (.6 percent) of the top income earners pay over 32 percent of the total Personal Income Tax receipts;
Those with incomes under $50,000 account for over half off all taxpayers in New York State (51.7 percent), yet pay a mere 8.4 percent of the total Personal Income Tax receipts;
When Oregon enacted its Success Tax, the state collected nearly one-third less revenue than projected; and
When Maryland enacted its Success Tax, it saw roughly one-third of its millionaire households disappear from the tax rolls after its state tax rates increased, as noted in the Wall Street Journal.
COURSE TAKEAWAYS: SUCCESSFUL NEW YORKERS ALREADY PAY PLENTY, SUCCESS TAXES HAVE FAILED TO MEET PROJECTIONS
The facts are clear: successful New Yorkers are already paying their fair share (and then some!) and Success Taxes - whether enacted here in New York or other states - have consistently failed to meet projections and done more harm than good to the economy and revenue collections.
WANT MORE JOBS? REFORM THE TAX CODE, PROVIDE REAL TAX RELIEF!
Hiking our state's already crushing tax burden on successful individuals - the very same people who invest, take risks and create private sector jobs - will not fix our economy or get more than 700,000 unemployed New Yorkers back on the job. What will work, what has proven to work in other states and nationally, is reforming our tax code, reducing tax rates for everyone, and providing real tax relief across the board. We can achieve all of this through a simpler, fairer, flatter tax code that gets our economy moving again, not another Success Tax or more class warfare. Class dismissed.
As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic, or any other state-related matter should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or e-mail me at email@example.com.