A Taxing Issue
Read my lips: no new lies. Not in Albany, not in DC.
Senator McCain's recent "tax and spend" attack ad references plans by Senator Obama to levy "painful tax increases on working American families." But the McCain campaign is being disingenuous.
According to the non-partisan FactCheck.org, the Obama tax plan would lower taxes for 81.3 percent of all households and for 95.5 percent of households with children. For families bringing home between $37,595 and $66,354, the Obama plan would cut on average $1,118 from their federal tax burden.
Under McCain's plan, the same families would save around $325, or about $793 less than Obama's proposal.
In a society that is increasingly seeing the rich get richer and everyone else fall behind, McCain wants to provide tax breaks for the rich. Worse, he's couched his argument in the broadest and most convoluted definition of "working families" I've ever seen.
The State of New York, dating back to the 1990s, makes the same mistakes. We tax working and middle class families more than we do the very rich. Let me repeat that. According to a recent report by the Center for Working Families, the top 5% of income earners pay state and local taxes at decidedly lower rates than the remaining 95% of people in the state.
In fact, over the last 30 years, the top bracket of the state personal income tax has steadily fallen from 15.375 percent to 6.85 percent. This has been accompanied by an increase in taxes for the remaining 95% of households who pay between 10 and 12 percent of their income in state and local taxes, making New York's taxes one of the most regressive in the nation.
In short, state revenues are falling, the super-rich are paying less than their fair share, and the majority of hard-working New Yorkers are left with a bill that shouldn't be theirs.
Last month we made tough cuts to the budget. I believe the focus now must turn to bolstering new revenue streams. We can hit two birds with one stone by making NY taxes more progressive.
State Republicans disagree. They've made clear they want to keep New York safe, healthy, vibrant and educated … they just don't want to tell us how they'll pay for it. Republicans claim to be the party against raising taxes. Instead, they are the party that defers taxes to other levels of government and then calls it a 'cut'.
Where do we go from here? My colleague Senator Eric Schneiderman has introduced S.8741, a revenue-neutral proposal that would help make the state's tax system more progressive, while lowering the tax burden for the majority of New Yorkers.
His legislation, which I co-sponsor, would create a "circuit breaker" to reduce the property tax burden on most New Yorkers, while simultaneously creating additional state revenue streams from the personal income tax to help fund local programs more equitably and efficiently.
A Sienna Research Institute poll finds that New Yorkers favor the 'circuit breaker' model over the property tax 'cap' when asked to choose between the two plans to limit property taxes.
Senator Schneiderman's plan also extends tax breaks to renters - New Yorkers that indirectly pay property taxes - who were given no relief under other plans. That means relief would flow to the 94% of my constituents living in rented space, in addition to New Yorkers that own their homes in my district and throughout the state.
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