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Know Your Rights
Source: Times Union
Subject: COVID-19
Type: Media Coverage

Progressive groups unite to focus on taxing the wealthy

With New York anticipating a multi-billion-dollar deficit for years to come, progressive groups are uniting in their efforts to convince state legislators to approve tax increases on the wealthiest New Yorkers.

During a typical legislative session, advocacy groups would flood the Capitol to lobby lawmakers on various causes, programs and issues, but the coronavirus pandemic has kept the Capitol closed to visitors since early in the public health crisis and it remains closed to the public. While some issues progressive groups focus on may dovetail into one another, usually their priorities differ when lobbying lawmakers. But with state budget officials estimating a $64 billion deficit over the next four years, advocacy groups have honed in on raising revenue by taxing those who can afford it as a common cause to achieve their collective priorities.

The size of the budget deficit is up for debate, with policy analysts estimating a smaller gap when factoring in actual revenues and federal aid received.

Dozens of grassroot organizations and legislators on Tuesday held a virtual press conference to draw attention and support for a package of bills that raise taxes on wealthy residents, including taxing Wall Street transactions, a capital gains tax and a tax on inherited wealth, among others, projected to raise over $50 billion, according to a report conducted by the Invest in Our New York Campaign.

The campaign is led by Alliance for Quality Education, Citizen Action, Empire State Indivisible, Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change, New York Working Families Party, NYC-DSA, Strong Economy for All, VOCAL-NY, New York Communities for Change, and Upstate Downstate Housing Alliance/Housing Justice for All. The expansive group has pledged to prioritize revenue-raising as the single top priority for the 2021 legislative session.

“New York is one of the largest economies in the world; and yet working, poor, elderly, immigrant, black and brown New Yorkers are continuously forced to bear the brunt of austerity budgets and cuts in public services. Now, in the midst of a public health and economic crisis, they are once again being forced to make a ‘collective sacrifice’ while the wealthiest New Yorkers become $70 billion richer,” said Ricky Silver and Erica Vladimer, Empire State Indivisible co-lead organizers, in a joint statement. “Enough is enough. Indivisibles across the state worked for years to deliver a true progressive supermajority in both chambers. Now, with that goal achieved, we are ready to fight alongside our elected allies and the 70+ organizational partners to protect Medicaid, cancel rent, fully fund our schools, and meaningfully invest in our public transportation. It’s time to invest in our New York.”

A breakdown of the package of bills that increases taxes on wealthy include:

Progressive income tax: Sponsored by state Sen. Robert Jackson and Assemblymember Demond Meeks, it would create a tax system where New Yorkers pay a significantly higher rate if they earn significantly more income. It is projected raise between $12 billion and $18 billion.

Capital gains tax: Sponsored by Assemblymember Ron Kim, this would tax income from investments like stocks similar to wages. It is estimated to raise $7 billion.

Heirs’ tax: Sponsored by senators James Sanders and Jabari Brisport and Assemblymember Michaelle C. Solages, this would tax large sums of inherited wealth. It is projected to raise $8 billion.

Billionaires’ tax: Sponsored by Sen. Jessica Ramos and Assemblymember Carmen De La Rosa, this would add an additional tax on billionaires. It is expected to raise $23 billion in the first year and $1.3 billion per year thereafter.

Wall Street tax: Sponsored by Sen. Julia Salazar and Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, this would put a small tax on Wall Street financial transactions. It is expected to raise between $12 billion and $29 billion.

Corporate tax: Sponsored by assemblymembers Anna Kelles and Harvey Epstein, this would repeal the tax cuts that were given to corporations by President Donald J. Trump by restoring the tax on the profit a corporation makes annually. It is expected to raise $9 billion.