Monthly Column: State of the State: More tax relief is still necessary


    By: Michael H. Ranzenhofer

    The New York State Senate convened last Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. for the first time in 2014 to officially begin this year’s Legislative Session and to receive an update by Governor Cuomo on the State of the State.  The message of the annual address could be summarized best by two words: tax relief.  


    The Governor’s presentation outlined a series of tax relief initiatives, including a two-year freeze on property taxes, lowering business taxes, eliminating taxes for Upstate manufacturers and accelerating the phase-out of the utility tax.


    These proposals have the potential to continue chipping away at New York’s high tax burden, just as enacting a property tax cap and reducing income taxes rates started that process a few years back.


    I am pleased that the Governor followed the lead of the report released by the State Senate last fall. Many of the Governor’s proposals were outlined by The Tax Policy Review and Reform Initiative, and I have been an advocate of many of these initiatives for several years now.


    Eliminating the corporate income tax rate for Upstate Manufacturers, and creating a new tax property tax credit for all manufacturers, would reduce the tax burden on those companies by more than $160 million.  Merging the bank tax into the corporate franchise tax, then lowering the rate to the lowest level in more than 45 years, would save businesses hundreds of millions of dollars.  


    Accelerating the phase-out of the 18-A surcharge (the utility tax) would put more money back in residents’ wallets, while helping to keep energy costs down for businesses.  Freezing property taxes would further enhance the two-percent property tax cap implemented years ago, providing almost a billion dollars in property tax relief back to beleaguered taxpayers.


    For a small business or manufacturer, tax relief will help to grow our local economy by enhancing a firm’s ability to invest and create jobs.  For a homeowner or family, cutting taxes will make it more affordable to live in New York, creating more opportunity.


    Once the Governor has released the details of his budget, I will be working with my colleagues in the State Senate and State Assembly to review these proposals.  It is important to note that I believe that these proposals should be just the beginning of providing additional tax relief to all New Yorkers at every level.  Even after enacting some, if not all, of these proposals, much more still needs to be done to lower New York’s tax burden. 


    That is why cutting taxes will continue to be one of my major priorities, not just for this legislative session, but for the next one and the one after that. Tax relief with the farthest reach, and to as many New Yorkers as possible, will help to ensure a brighter, stronger and more prosperous economy for Western New York. 


    Senator Ranzenhofer's monthly column appeared in the Amherst and Clarence Bee on January 15th.