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A Republican who wants to unseat Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo this year says New York state residents face one of the highest tax burdens in the country.
Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro said Cuomo hasn’t done enough to lower taxes during his first two terms as governor.
"I can imagine he wants to talk about anything but his last seven years in office and certainly the fact that we have among the highest tax burdens of any state in the nation," Molinaro said to reporters in Albany.
Molinaro wants to cut property taxes by reducing state mandated spending for counties, like Medicaid. The state would absorb that spending without raising taxes by cutting costs elsewhere.
Cuomo has limited rising property taxes by capping how much local governments can raise them. PolitiFact New York rated as Mostly True the governor's claim that he's cut income taxes to the lowest rates in 70 years for middle-class New York state earners. So where New York state ranks in the nation for tax burden could change in coming years.
But is Molinaro right? Do New York state residents still have among the highest tax burdens in the country now?
Tax burden data
To support the claim, a Molinaro spokesperson pointed to a New York Post article that relied on data and analysis from the right-leaning Tax Foundation. The group found the state's residents spent, on average, 12.7 percent of their income on state and local taxes, "the highest burden in the nation." But there's a caveat: The data's from 2012.
More recent analysis from the Tax Foundation shows New York state ranked second in the nation for the amount of all state and local taxes collected per capita -- $8,722 -- in 2016. That includes property, income, sales and corporate taxes among others. Only North Dakota had a higher amount.
For state and local income taxes alone, New York state ranked highest in the nation for the amount collected per capita -- $2,789 -- in 2015, according to the latest data from the Tax Foundation.
For property taxes, New York state ranked fourth in the nation for the amount collected per capita -- $2,697 -- in 2015. The state has some of the highest local property taxes in the country.
"Looking at all of the available metrics, some of this is of course driven by New York being a relatively high-income state," said John Buhl, a spokesperson for the Tax Foundation. "Nevertheless, by most measures, New York is one of the highest taxed states in the country."
Other things to consider
Per capita rates look at the total amount of tax revenue collected in a state divided by that state’s population.
That doesn’t consider the number of wealthy earners and high-value homes in New York state, which inflate the revenue collected by state and local governments. New York state has the third-highest number of millionaires in the country, and those earners are taxed at a higher rate than in most states.
The state also has the second-highest number of homes worth more than $2 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. New York state ranks 14th in property taxes as a share of the state’s average home value.
New York state "does have a lot of very wealthy people, companies and buildings," said Richard Auxier, a research associate at the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan tax research organization. "All that wealth contributes to New York’s high tax revenue, even before we discuss tax rates and the tax liability of residents."
Auxier co-authored a report that showed New York state relied more on property and income tax revenue than an average state in 2012. New York state relied on property taxes more than most states in particular. But the state also provides generous tax credits to low- and middle-income families.
Molinaro said New York state has "among the highest tax burdens of any state in the nation."
The Tax Foundation analysis shows New York state ranks among the highest for per capita collections of income and property taxes.
Since Cuomo took office in January 2011, New York state has cut income tax rates and capped property tax increases. The changes could affect future rankings.
But Molinaro’s claim is accurate. The tax burden for the state's residents remains among the highest in the nation. We rate it True.
Email conversation with David Catalfamo, political spokesperson for Molinaro
"New York taxpayers have highest burden in nation," New York Post, Feb. 20, 2018
Email conversation with John Buhl, spokesperson for the Tax Foundation
Email interview with Richard Auxier, research associate at the Tax Policy Center
"Assessing Fiscal Capacities of States," Urban Institute, March 2016
"Is your state’s tax system punching above or below its weight?" Blog post by Richard Auxier, March 9, 2016
"Which Places Pay the Most in Property Taxes?," Tax Foundation, May 18, 2017
Facts and Figures 2018 Report from the Tax Foundation
State-local tax burden rankings for FY2012, Tax Foundation
State tax credits in New York state, Tax Credits for Workers and Their Families
"States with the most millionaires per capita," CNBC, Feb. 7, 2018
Home value statistics obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau, Code: B25075
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