Town of Ramapo Supervisor Christopher P. St. Lawrence and state Sen. David Carlucci, D-New City, have criticized a new proposal to restore New York City’s commuter tax.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer put forth a proposal to reinstate the tax, which was repealed in 1999. Stringer maintains that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority needs the extra funds to help stabilize its budget.
“The commuter tax is nothing more than a tariff that unjustly targets suburban commuters,” said St. Lawrence. “Instead of looking for a handout and attempting to balance its budget on the backs of the hard-working men and women who travel to work in New York City each day, the MTA would be better served by engaging in internal cost-cutting measures and proven budgetary practices that actually make fiscal sense. Instituting yet another tax on commuters cannot be the solution for the MTA’s budget woes.”
St. Lawrence noted that Rockland County residents already pay considerably more money to the MTA than the value of the services that they receive in return. A recent study commissioned by the County of Rockland determined that Rockland taxpayers pay $110 million to the MTA. However, the MTA only provides $68 million to the county in services, which results in a value gap of nearly $42 million.
Based on the , Rockland residents only get back 62 cents for every dollar that they give to the MTA.
“Rockland residents already pay far more to the MTA than they get in return, and the inequity that presently exists is absolutely unacceptable,” said St. Lawrence. “Reinstating the commuter tax would be a tremendous slap in the face to the people who are already paying significantly more than their fair share.”
Carlucci described the latest proposal as "an unfortunate and ill-conceived idea."
“This is an onerous tax that would negatively affect working families, many of whom commute to and from New York City every day," Carlucci said. "Reinstating this income tax would cost suburban residents across the state nearly half a percentage point out of their hard-earned money, or nearly $725 million annually, according to an article in today’s New York Times.
“This would be a costly and unnecessary tax on the same people already paying some of the highest property taxes in the nation – including the residents of Rockland, Orange and Westchester counties. While this might be good politics in New York City, it’s flat out bad policy for New York State as a whole," Carlucci said.
Here's more from a statement by Carlucci:
“When the state Legislature eliminated the tax altogether back in 1999, they did so because it was clear that New Yorkers could no longer afford paying the burdensome tax. They shouldn’t have paid it back then, and they shouldn’t pay it now.
“Working with Governor Cuomo over the last two years, we have reduced income taxes for working families. This includes reducing the MTA payroll tax for nearly 80% of filers, resulting in real savings for small businesses, non-profit organizations, schools, libraries and self employed individuals.
“Instead of just adhering to outdated tax-and-spend policies, we should demand more accountability from the MTA. We worked hard to roll back the MTA payroll tax. Reversing that victory and transferring the burden from small businesses to the backs of hardworking suburban taxpayers is just plain wrong.”
St. Lawrence and Carlucci aren't the only critic of the proposal. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also attacked the proposal, calling it “penny-wise and pound-foolish” and a concept that would hurt New York City's economy — as well as hurting New Jersey residents who commute to the city.
The commuter tax was in place for 33 years. The tax affected roughly 800,000 commuters, who paid .45 of 1 percent on earned income. At the time, on a $75,000 income, the tax was nearly $350 a year. The repeal of the tax came as part of an lightning fast effort by Republicans to secure suburban political victories, including that of the late state Sen. Thomas Morahan, R-New City.