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Cuomo unveils tax rate breaks for the 99%

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo Credit: Getty Images

Finally, some good news for the 99%.

The super rich would continue getting soaked under a new tax deal set to be approved this week, but there are welcome cuts coming for just about everyone else.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo along with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) unveiled new tax rates Tuesday that ease the financial burden on most income earners. The shakeup is part of a greater effort by state leaders to stimulate the economy and close a $3.5 billion budget deficit next fiscal year.

"Our state government has come together in a bipartisan manner to create jobs, grow our economy and at the same time enact a fair tax plan that cuts taxes for the middle class," said Cuomo, touting how some 4.4 million middle-class New Yorkers would benefit.

"This would be [the] lowest tax rate for middle-class families in 58 years," the Democratic governor said in a statement.

Those earning between $40,000 and $150,000 would see their tax rates fall from 6.85% to 6.45%, while those earning between $150,000 and $300,000 would see tax rates decline from 6.85% to 6.65%.

As a result, a typical middle-class earner would keep a few hundred dollars in their pockets, said Elizabeth Lynam, deputy research director at the nonpartisan Citizens Budget Commission.

"Every little bit counts these days. It can help you pay an extra bill," she said.

Meanwhile, those earning more than $2 million annually are currently paying 8.97% as part of a "millionaires' tax" surcharge set to expire at the end of the year. The rate was supposed to drop to 6.85%, but under the plan, would only fall to 8.82%. That money would amount to $1.9 billion in tax revenue for the state.

While supporters of the plan see the tax overhaul as a way to get everyone to pay their "fair" share, critics say Cuomo has reneged on his campaign pledge not to raise any taxes.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday rejected the possibility of higher taxes, and his spokesman didn't return a request for comment yesterday about the proposal.

Cuomo, facing a dire financial outlook, has had to soften his position on tax hikes and compromise with Republicans on other issues, such as reducing the payroll tax imposed on small businesses to help fund the MTA.

"The governor has very astutely shifted the focus on to fairness, which plays to the Occupy Wall Street theme," said Gerald Benjamin, political science professor at SUNY New Paltz.

The reform package, which also suggests ways to create new jobs, could be approved this week during a special session of the Legislature.

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