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State budget deal includes tax breaks for purchases of yachts, private planes

ALBANY - Liberal groups are blasting state lawmakers for ignoring the minimum wage but granting tax breaks to purchasers of private airplanes and yachts.

Under a provision tucked into the proposed budget, sales tax would only be applied to the first $230,000 of a yacht’s purchase price. Any amount above that would be tax free.

Another would exempt general aviation aircraft from state sales tax.

Ron Deutsch of the labor-backed Fiscal Policy Institute called it an example of “misplaced priorities,” noting legislators took a pass on the minimum wage and a “circuit breaker” approach to property-tax credits that would help the middle class and working poor.

“It appears our legislative leaders could not agree to provide tax relief to struggling homeowners and renters through a middle class property tax circuit breaker but managed to find the political will to provide sales tax exemptions for people buying luxury yachts?” Deutsch said.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) defended the exemptions as two of an array of tax credits lawmakers back.

“The justification for that is it creates jobs,” Skelos said. “Just like we have a film [industry] tax credits and exemptions, we felt it was important.”

A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) ripped the tax break.

 “It seems like the yacht and airplane owner lobby is much more powerful than people thought," said spokesman Mike Murphy. "It is outrageous that we are giving yacht and airplane owners massive tax breaks while we refuse to provide a real minimum wage increase or real property tax relief.”

Skelos noted that Democrats and Republicans backed a minimum wage hike a few years ago that is still being phased-in.


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