Groups Call for Creation of Promised Tax Reform and Fairness Commission
Urge Inclusion of Local Property Taxes
ALBANY, NY (05/22/2012)(readMedia)-- Members of the Omnibus Consortium (a coalition of tax reform organizations from across NYS) called upon Governor Cuomo to create a Tax Reform and Fairness Commission as he has promised on multiple occasions.
After the December 2011 tax law changes were enacted, during the State of the State and at his budget address the Governor stated that he would issue an Executive Order to create a commission that would look at issues of tax fairness in our state.
The Governor said the Commission would examine sales, income and corporate taxes. Many tax reform groups assembled in Albany today because they are concerned that the Commission, as outlined by the Governor, has yet to be enacted and will not include property taxes and instead only focus on state taxes.
"On three separate occasions the Governor has stated that he would form a Tax Reform and Fairness Commission but we have yet to see him take any action to address the issue," said Ron Deutsch of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness. "We have an upside down tax structure in this state where working families pay a larger portion of their income in state and local taxes than do the states wealthiest residents. How fair is that?"
Frank Mauro of the Fiscal Policy Institute stated, "Since one of the issues that the new tax study commission is being asked to focus on is tax fairness, it is essential that this commission assess the progressivity of the overall state-local tax system on which New York relies for the funding of essential public services. It is not informative to look only at the progressivity of a part of that system."
"The Governor's proposed tax commission -which should address our inequitable taxation system- in toto -falls far short," said Gioia Shebar of TaxNightmare.org "The promised Cuomo commission reminds me of a story about a patient who went to his doctor and complained that his head throbbed, his liver had given out, his kidneys were failing and his heart was damaged. The doctor replied, " Oh, I see you have a hangnail. Let's deal with that and you'll feel better. This commission is too limited and too selective- in advance of any findings- to be a legitimate response to all that ails New York State's tax system and all that is crushing NYS taxpayers."
Robert McKeon of Tax Reform Effort of Northern Dutchess (TREND) stated,"A fair, holistic approach to the tax structure in New York can only be accomplished if an independent body of educated advisors are allowed free-reign in developing recommendations. Accordingly, today we are calling on the Governor and Legislature to constitute a commission of highly qualified individuals and refrain from demanding politically motivated limitations to allow democracy to work its way into the decision making process. Little has changed since the enactment of the property cap; those who could not afford the taxes on their homes, still can not. Those who preferred to continue investments in educational institutions have witnessed lay-offs, program cuts and confusion within their communities. With a weak cap and a miniscule income tax cut, the reality is that a profound change has not occurred on New York's fiscal landscape - it will take place only when bold political leaders set their mind to it. A commission must adequately represent all community interests; residential and business, and it should study potential impacts across the board. The need for such a comprehensive change is longstanding and each day average working New Yorkers are the casualties of Albany's delay."
"While New York has often been listed as number one nationally in combined state and local taxes, that is mainly due to its local taxes rather than state taxes", said John Whiteley of the NYS Property Tax Reform Coalition. "Local taxes far exceed the national average, while state taxes are only slightly above the average. Against this backdrop, which particularly impacts the middle class, it would be unreasonable and inequitable not to include the property tax -- generally considered the most burdensome tax of all -- in any discussion of tax fairness,"
The groups urged that any Commission the Governor creates through an Executive Order should:
• be comprised of economists and affected parties• include all state and local taxes
• hold at least 10-15 hearings at geographically diverse regions around the state
• allow for testimony to be submitted electronically and be publically available on the Commission's website
• not have set or preordained outcomes (such as "revenue neutrality")
• consult with additional outside experts as needed
• develop a thoughtful, deliberative plan to make the tax system fair and equitable for all state residents