Cuomo Thinks MTA Payroll Tax Is “Onerous,” Wants Alternative

Andrew Cuomo continues to leave the door open for cuts or changes to the NYC region’s payroll mobility tax, which raises $1.34 billion annually for the MTA. Here’s what he had to say about the tax after an event in Poughkeepsie yesterday (at minute 5:00 of the above video):

It is a very onerous tax. It’s not just in this area, people are complaining about it on Long Island, the entire metropolitan region. I said from the beginning, I understand the need to finance the system. If we can find a better way to do it, I’m open.

Cuomo’s already voiced his willingness to “revisit” the critical funding source, as have the four breakaway Senate Democrats. The Senate Republican majority has made repeal a top priority. If Cuomo is serious that any lost revenue would have to be replaced, the political foundation for some sort of deal is in place. The terms of that deal, however, are far from clear. Congestion pricing or bridge tolls would only raise a fraction of the revenue from the full payroll tax, but would probably provide more than enough to offset the loss of payroll tax revenue from suburban counties.

  • Larry Littlefield

    And why should NYC residents have to pay a tax that suburban residents to not, with the benefits going to suburban residents (and MTA employees who all live in the suburbs)?

    Why should MTA region residents pay dedicated taxes that are spent outside the region as part of the state’s general fund?

    If he wants to eliminate the tax, he should do the following.

    1) Eliminate MTA bus service, and train service in places that don’t pay for the MTA to maintain the stations.

    2) Allow NYC to keep the tax to subsidize buses and station maintenance. If the city wants to keep free transfers, the one fare would count as a subway fare.

    3) Don’t give that option to the suburban counties who have complained.

  • Gary Reilly

    Bring back the commuter tax to replace the payroll mobility tax.

    The current set-up is a poor substitute, poorly executed.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Exactly, the payroll tax (PMT) is the tax that will make the Commuter Tax look good to the majority in the Burbs. Throw in Congestion Pricing and you have the backbone of a long term financing structure that can work. How much it can provide in terms of a Kapital program is problematic but a start.

  • Gary Reilly

    I meant to say it is an insufficient substitute, poorly executed.

    And I agree that Congestion Pricing (via bridge tolls) is the necessary complement to the Commuter Tax.

    I expect the Henry Hudson bridge trial will prove the case for cashless tolling which will then be swiftly rolled out to all MTA bridges and tunnels. From there it will be an easier sell to toll the East River and perhaps Harlem River crossings.

    Getting those funds dedicated to transit will be key.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    In the end there is a certain level of funding that is necessary. Swapping the suburban portion of the PMT for a sufficient Commuter Tax would seem to take care of that side of the equation, leaving CP or bridge tolls available for the capital plan. None of this can be achieved until the MTA wraps a deal with the TWU for 2012-2015. The suburbs will not go quietly into another Commuter Tax structure but when you look at the universe of budget problems and tax relief promises I think this sort of swap would work, and the numbers aren’t that far off.

  • J:Lai

    I have to agree that some combination of commuter tax + tolls/congestion charge would be much better than the payroll tax.
    Other things, like a surcharge on delivery trucks/vans, increased parking fees or residential parking permits, even an extra tax on gas stations located in NYC, would also be better ways to raise this revenue.

    The payroll tax directly reduces employment, and associates the cost of the transit authority with an activity that is at best only tangentially related to the service provided.

    A business in Suffolk county that employs people from the local town is exactly who you don’t want to tax.

  • Albert Krasnik

    What is wrong with those who use the system paying for it? Why should I, and many others, who do not use nor benefit in any way shape or form, be forced to finance it? I for one, am sick and tired of paying for everyone else’s everything! You want it, you buy it and leave me out of it!

  • Yes, Albert, that’s exactly what I’ve been saying about the Tappan Zee Bridge.

  • eveostay

    Albert, you mean the highway system, right?


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