Tax Reform Truth Is Hard To Come By In Albany

Millions of New Yorkers are now receiving bigger paychecks as a direct result of federal tax reform, yet Gov. Cuomo has doubled-down on a misleading campaign based on fear rather than facts. Over the past several weeks, the governor hasn’t missed an opportunity to warn New Yorkers about the impending doom federal tax reform was going to bring to the Empire State. 

  • “Washington hit a button and launched an economic missile and it says ‘New York’ on it and it’s headed our way.”
  • “Every New Yorker gets a 25% tax increase.”
  • “We’re standing on a train track, and the train is coming right for us.” 

These statements range from exaggerated rhetoric to complete falsehoods. None of the scare tactics coming out of the Executive Chamber mentioned that a reduction in federal income tax would result in more money in our pockets. That’s by design, and not the only information being deliberately withheld.
Last week, the governor unveiled his latest anti-Washington D.C. measure with something called the “Tax Fairness for New York Campaign.” It essentially sues the federal government while partially shifting New York from an income-tax to a payroll-tax system (a convoluted proposal opposed by business groups). But on the same day, the governor’s own budget director admitted that the state doesn’t have actual financial estimates on the full impacts of the federal reform bill.
There is justifiable concern that a $10,000 cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions will hurt high-income earners and individuals saddled with high property taxes. But the governor’s narrative completely ignores beneficial elements of reform, such as: doubling the standard deduction, increasing the child care credit and reducing tax rates. In fact, according to the Department of Taxation and Finance, nearly 80 percent of New Yorkers did not itemize deductions two years ago and would not be impacted by the change.
The governor isn’t telling the whole truth. He’s selectively latching on to one-quarter of the story, because that’s what fits his political storyline and ambitions.
If you’re able to look past the shouting, finger-pointing and overblown rhetoric, there is a painfully obvious fact ­– New York State needs to get its fiscal house in order.
Long before recent federal action, New York has been among the nation’s highest-tax states for years. New York ranks 50th worst in taxes; 49th worst in economic climate; 48thworst in state debt; and 47th worst in property taxes. As a result, more than one million New Yorkers have packed up and left for other states during the past 10 years. Unfortunately, the outmigration issue may grow more alarming.
There’s little debate that federal tax reform will hurt the wealthiest New Yorkers the most. Gov. Cuomo has expressed grave concerns that high earners will leave the state in the face of tax reform. But those concerns never prevented New York from establishing a three-year millionaires’ tax in 2011, extending it for three years starting in 2014, and again for two more years in the 2017-18 budget. These are the realities conveniently left out of the anti-Washington narrative.
This should be a dollars-and-sense discussion, based on straight talk and accurate information. Instead we are witnessing a political campaign fully focused on the White House – instead of focusing on the best interests of New York State.
What do you think?  I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter.

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