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EDITORIAL: IDA tax is a bad idea

Long Island needs a single, clear, effective voice on economic development - not an array of competing industrial development agencies. But right now, those town and county IDAs are the tool we have. And the last thing they need is a bizarre new tax.

The tax is part of the state's never-ending search for new revenues to fill its huge budget hole. The bills arrived just recently, raising howls of outrage from the IDAs. Why? Because the state is taxing revenues that these agencies use to pay their bills and create more jobs - revenues from such sources as application fees and closing fees on deals with private firms.

Worse, the state also levied the tax on such funds as payments in lieu of taxes, which simply move through the IDA accounts on their way from the companies getting IDA benefits to municipalities. For Brookhaven's IDA, that zany calculation made the tax bill $195,396 - instead of the $20,972 it would have been if the tax applied only to actual revenue. This is at a time when the town wants its IDA to do more. So Brookhaven will vote tonight on a measure decrying the tax.

Beyond outrage, what's needed is a repeal of the tax. Some Long Island and other senators are proposing just that. It's the least they can do - after failing to stop this idea at the start. A tax on job-producing funding is ill-advised right now, when jobs are supposed to be Job No. 1. hN


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