NY Speaker Heastie wants higher taxes on millionaires

February 3, 2016 By David Klepper Associated Press
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has unveiled a plan that would increase taxes on millionaires while giving tax relief to middle-class and low-income workers. AP Photo/Mike Groll, File
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A long-awaited tax proposal from Democrats in the New York State Assembly would increase taxes on millionaires while giving tax relief to middle-class and low-income workers, a shift they said would raise $1.2 billion in new revenue while making the state income tax more equitable.

The plan, which Speaker Carl Heastie outlined for the Associated Press on Monday before publicly unveiling it Tuesday, will run into significant opposition in the Republican-led Senate but will give Democratic lawmakers leverage as they negotiate the state budget over the new few months.

Under the proposal, the state’s current top income tax rate of 8.82 percent would be applied to anyone making between $1 million and $5 million a year. Two new, higher rates would be created for higher brackets: 9.32 percent for those making between $5 million and $10 million, and 9.82 percent on more than $10 million.

The hikes would raise an estimated $1.7 billion. About 56,000 taxpayers would pay more, with the average increase projected to be $33,000. Heastie noted that some 10,000 of those people are non-residents.

“It’s a fair way to ask people to pay their fair share,” said Heastie, a Bronx Democrat. “Someone making $5 million or $10 million a year, that’s a small sacrifice.”

Senate Leader John Flanagan vowed to oppose the proposal.

“Whether it’s income taxes, property taxes, business taxes, user fees or tolls, we don’t support raising taxes or asking hardworking New Yorkers to dig deeper into their pockets to pay more,” the Long Island Republican said Tuesday.

The proposal would also reduce tax rates for middle-class taxpayers who make between $40,000 and $150,000 from 6.45 percent to 6.25 percent. That cut would apply to taxpayers who file jointly as a married couple, but similar reductions would apply to other types of filers.

Some 5.5 million taxpayers would see their liability reduced, saving on average $50.

Finally, about 1.6 million low-income workers would see an increase in the earned-income tax credit, with the average recipient receiving nearly $110 more.

The tax relief for the middle-class and low-income workers is expected to cost about $450 million.

The changes, if approved, would go into effect in the 2018 tax year.

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