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NYC Exodus Fears Rekindled As State Moves To Hike Taxes On Wealthy

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at his daily coronavirus briefing on March 26, 2020.

The New York state legislature reached an agreement that could see tax hikes on the wealthiest residents, despite real estate business players warning the move will drive people from the region and slow its recovery.

If the budget bill passes, there will be an increase in income and corporate taxes to create another $4.3B annually, The New York Times reports.

Specifically, the proposal would mean the highest earners in New York City would be paying between 13.5% and 14.8% in state and city taxes. On a state level, new personal income tax brackets would be formulated, seeing those earning between $5M and $25M paying 10.3%, and those with an income of over $25M paying 10.9%, per the publication. Those making in excess of $1M will see their personal income tax rate go up to 9.65% from 8.25%.

The Democrats’ supermajority in the state legislature, and the political scandals surrounding Gov. Andrew Cuomo, meant real estate players were bracing themselves for what they consider unpalatable policy decisions.

Just last month, some 250 New York City business leaders — including multiple real estate players — signed a letter to Cuomo and Democratic leaders of the state legislature warning of the damage tax hikes could do.

“This is not about companies threatening to leave the state; this is simply about our people voting with their feet,” the group known as The Partnership for New York City wrote.

The Real Estate Board of New York also wrote to Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to warn that the proposed taxes increase the risk of “destabilizing” the economy.

The Partnership for New York City CEO Kathryn Wylde told Bisnow tax increases will make the city an unattractive place to live, and hurt the city overall.

“If this tax package goes through at the state, and Biden's proposed tax package goes through at the federal level, the combination is that the highest earners will be paying 60% of their income or more to the government,” she said. "And if they move to Florida, it's more like 40%."

She had argued the proposals were driven by left-wing advocates who are interested in redistributing wealth rather than solving a budget deficit. The tax raises, should they be enacted, will instill fear in the real estate community, whose members are worried that a progressive agenda that has been brewing for some time will now dominate the city's elections.

“We’ve seen a socialist insurgency in the Assembly and the Senate, and the impact it has had on the psyche of the average institutional politician has changed things,” Jay Martin, the executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program, has previously told Bisnow. “You now have candidates that would be moderates that are now playing to this small group of voters.”