Avella Bill seeks to keep ‘millionaires tax’ through 2012

Tony Avella

January 05, 2012

By Adam Sichko

The pesky “millionaires tax” just won’t go away.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and most Senate Republicans blocked efforts this year to keep the tax going as a way to erase a $10 billion deficit.

The hot-button tax consists of two higher rates on income above $250,000—affecting tens of thousands of businesses that must report business income through personal income tax returns.

Business lobbies have railed against the tax. It’s supposed to expire at year’s end.

A state senator introduced a bill to change that.

Sen. Tony Avella, a first-term Democrat from Queens, wants to keep the tax going through 2012.

Doing so would generate an extra $4.2 billion for the state, Avella said on May 5.

Avella wants to limit the tax to only affect actual millionaires, taxing their income at 8.97 percent.

The rate is 30 percent more than the former top tax bracket, before the millionaires tax became law in 2009.

“Much of the problem with the current incarnation ... is that it may harm small businesses and families that may not actually be millionaires,” Avella said. “This bill will rectify that. There is plenty of support for this type of surcharge.”

The budget for the current fiscal year erased the deficit without creating or extending taxes. Avella called the budget “fiscally responsible.”

“Our pragmatic approach to closing the budget gap has caused extreme hardship in the form of cuts to schools, health care, energy and environmental programs, and a drastic reduction in the state work force,” Avella said.

“We must constantly be searching for responsible ways to increase revenue in order to ease the pain of these cuts.”

Avella’s bill, introduced earlier this week, does not yet have a sponsor in the Assembly. But there are plenty of legislators in that chamber who want to keep the tax going, starting with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan).