William Schoolman, pictured in the Bohemia offices of Classic Coach...

William Schoolman, pictured in the Bohemia offices of Classic Coach Companies, has taken on the MTA. launching a suit against the agency's commuter tax, which many businesses hate and want overturned. (Jan. 13, 2011) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

William Schoolman, president of Bohemia-based Classic Coach Companies, has been fighting what he calls the good fight for more than a year now, the fight against the MTA payroll tax, which has raised the ire of Long Island officials and business executives.

Schoolman's lawsuit, filed in December 2009, was the first against the tax, and since then Nassau and Suffolk counties and towns and school districts have joined.

Now the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has filed a motion to move the suit from State Supreme Court in Suffolk to one in Albany - outside of the downstate area where the tax applies. Schoolman's battle has intensified.

About half to two-thirds of his workday, Schoolman said, is now devoted to the tax fight. He speaks before civic, business and school groups and has a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation against the tax. He buttonholes legislators, journalists and just about anyone who will listen to him.

His business pays about $20,000 annually to the MTA for the payroll tax. Employers in the 12-county area served by the MTA pay 34 cents for every $100 of payroll.

Schoolman has founded a new organization, Tax Relief Now, with a broader agenda than defeating the MTA payroll tax. The plan, Schoolman said, is to make New York State more "business-friendly" by reducing taxes and cutting some state regulations.

"I'm never going to stop" fighting the payroll tax, Schoolman said. "This is going to go on for a long time."

An MTA spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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