Spin Cycle

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Benefits of proposed tax recipe remain to be seen

At first glance, the report of yet another Cuomo administration commission on taxation seems just that.

But on closer inspection, the commission’s recommendations basically outline what could be a tailor-made political deal — especially considering that 2014 is a statewide election year.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has been saying since last summer that he wants some type of tax cut next year. The governor’s hand-picked panel, which included his former rivals, ex-Gov. George Pataki and ex-state comptroller Carl McCall, rolled out a recipe with a little bit for every faction at the state Capitol.

The formula: Mix reductions in corporate and estate taxes (which Republicans favor) with an income-tax credit to offset property tax increases (which all lawmakers will favor, especially in the suburbs and upstate), a way to link that credit to one’s ability to pay (which Democrats favor) and a targeted subsidy for urban renters (which New York City pols and the Black and Hispanic Caucus favor). And, voilà! Something for (almost) everyone.

Now, how much the average Joe will benefit remains to be seen. The property tax income tax credit requires local governments to adhere to a 2 percent cap on property-tax increases the first year, and to take steps to consolidate services in the second year. Even if those hurdles are cleared, New Yorkers probably won’t get the tax credits until 2015, at best.

And there are critics, such as E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center think tank, who say even if the plan is enacted, homeowners’ tax credits will be too small ($90-$200) to do much for the economy.

Finally, the tax commission’s ideas don’t deal with a plan by New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to raise taxes on high earners to help expand prekindergarten. Nor do they explain how the state will close a $1.7 billion deficit while offering a tax cut.
 

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