Issues: Progressive Taxation

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With a more progressive system of taxation and revenue sharing, New York State can net over $30 billion more in revenue a year with the following reforms. With this additional revenue the state can fully fund schools and public services, rebuild infrastructure, and restore the fiscal health of distressed local governments and enable them to cut the state’s highest-in-the-nation property taxes outside of New York City.

Restore State Revenue Sharing (Cost: $5 billion a year)

  • Restore state revenue sharing with municipal governments (AIM – Aid and Incentives for Municipalities) to 8% of state revenues ($5.8 billion a year).

  • Use state revenue sharing to pay for unfunded state mandates in order to restore the fiscal health of local governments, fully fund public services and schools, and cut regressive sales and property taxes.

Full State Funding of Medicaid: Take this unfunded state mandate off the local property and sales tax. (Cost: $2 billion a year).

Eliminate the State Cap on Local Property Taxes: Let local governments set their own priorities among schools, services, and relief from regressive local sales and property taxes.

More Progressive State Income Tax : Restore the more progressive personal and business income tax structure of the 1970s (Revenue: At least $10 more billion a year).

Cut Income Taxes for Working People: Cut the lowest bracket from 4% to 2% of income, as it was in the 1970s. Adjust the brackets for middle income earners to ease the tax burden on earned income from work.

Multi-Millionaires Tax: Update the income tax brackets to reflect today’s income distribution in the millionaire class so that the income tax is progressively graduated as income goes from a few million to tens of millions. (Revenue: $2.3 billion)

Stock Transfer Tax: Stop rebating the Stock Transfer Tax (Revenue: $12 to $16 billion a year).

Cut Corporate Welfare (Savings: Up to $4 billion a year).

Unincorporated Business Tax: Enact a state surtax on high-dollar pass-through income from LLCs and other business vehicles in order to recapture some of the 20 percent deduction granted by new federal tax cuts to pass-through business income ($1 billion a year).

Claw-Back Tax on Unproductive Federal Corporate Tax Cuts: Enact a “claw-back tax” on publicly traded companies that receive tax breaks under the new federal tax law but do not create jobs or raise pay of workers. Exempt small businesses and start-ups (Revenue: $1 billion a year).

Windfall Profits Tax on Opioid Wealth: An assessment on pharmaceutical company fortunes built by abusing the prescription system to explode sales and distribute dangerous opioid painkillers beyond their proper use could raise billions for overdose prevention, drug treatment, and public health.

Close the Carried Interest Loophole: Tax income earned by hedge fund managers, private equity investors, venture capitalists and certain real estate investors – known as carried interest – as ordinary income, instead of at a lower rate as capital gains (Revenue: $3.5 billion a year).

More Progressive New York Estate Taxes: Add brackets with progressively higher rates for taxable estates over $10 million.

Internet Sales Tax: Expand the sales tax to cover all internet transactions in order to level the playing field for brick-and-morter retailers (Revenue: $160 million for the state, $160 million for the counties).

Circuit Breakers on Property Taxes and Rents: Refundable tax credits paid by the state to prevent low-income households from being overloaded with property tax or rent burdens.

Phase Out the Condo Tax Break: Condos are currently assessed at their rental value, while other homes and commercial properties are assessed at their resale value, resulting in an average 36% tax break for condos that shifts the property tax burden unfairly onto other property taxpayers. This condo tax break distorts the property tax, which is intended to fund local governments based on the value of property as a fair, proportional measure of each citizen’s ability to contribute. This tax break for condos, including single-family homes in condo associations, is inequitable and should be phased out.

Home Rule on Local Income Taxes: Give local governments the right to enact local income taxes – as New York City and Yonkers have been permitted to do – in order to diversity their funding sources and make the overall tax burden progressive.

Progressive Carbon Tax: Enact a progressive state carbon tax with rebates to low- and moderate-income households. The carbon tax will make polluters pay for their damages and make private investments in clean energy pay off.

Land Value Taxation (LVT): Enact state LVT, which taxes rental value of land and levies no tax on improvements on the land like buildings. The revenues from a state LVT should be largely returned to local governments by an equitable formula, with a portion retained by the state for public investments and programs that benefit all communities. LVT is a fairer property tax because it returns to the public treasury the windfall of unearned value added to the price and rental value of a piece of land by social investments and improvements (such as transportation, water, and sewage infrastructure; nearby businesses, housing, schools, parks, and community gardens; and land-use planning decisions). These improvements are paid for by others – public and private investors – not the landowner. LVT make land speculation, where landowners leave land unimproved and bet on its increased future value, unprofitable. LVT thereby encourages compact urban development and discourages sprawl. State LVT should include a refundable tax credit "circuit breaker" to limit the tax burden on low-income, owner-occupied homes and farms.

The land value of New York City is now bigger that New York State's GDP, which would rank the state 11th among the world's nations. The big increases in land values in New York City have resulted in huge increases in unearned income for the top 1%. Their incomes have exploded as the increased rental value of land has been collateralized into bank loans and flowed through the financial, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) sector as rent, interest, and capital gains to the top 1%. The share of all income going to the top 1% grew from 12% in 1980 in both New York State and New York City to 30% in the state and 41% in the city by 2014. LVT returns this unearned income to the community for its public use.


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