Andrew M. Cuomo targeted high taxes when he announced his candidacy for New York governor.
"We’re tired of seeing New Yorkers leave the state because they can’t pay their taxes anymore," Cuomo said at his May 2010 announcement.
Now, more than halfway into his second term, Cuomo says he’s kept his promise to lower taxes.
"I’ve spent less than every other governor and when you spend less you can cut taxes. Taxes for every New Yorker are lower today than when I started," Cuomo said during a recent speech in Fishkill. "Corporate taxes are down to the level they were at in 1968. Middle-class taxes are down to the level they were at in 1947. Manufacturing taxes are down to the level they were at in 1917."
Is Cuomo right? Are taxes for every New Yorker lower?
Personal income taxes
Income taxes are lower for earners at all wage levels compared with 2010, according to the state Department of Budget.
From the highest-income residents to couples earning less than about $40,000 annually, tax rates are lower, though not dramatically for the highest earners. A married couple making more than roughly $2.1 million is taxed at an 8.82 percent rate, down from 8.97 percent.
In 2010, married couples making $500,000 were taxed at 8.97 percent. Now, married couples making between roughly $320,000 and $2.1 million are taxed at 6.85 percent.
For couples earning less than about $40,000 annually, the tax rate has stayed the same since 2010, ranging from 5.9 percent to 4 percent for the lowest earners. The Department of Budget says deductions have increased for those earners despite the flat rate. Deductions have been indexed to inflation since Cuomo and the legislature passed new tax law in 2011. That means deductions should be larger for anyone in this wage category who earns the same amount in 2015 as in 2011.
The same is true for single filers. The tax rate has decreased for anyone making more than about $20,000 annually. The rate has stayed the same for anyone making less than that, though deductions are indexed to inflation for these filers as well.
Business income taxes
Manufacturers were taxed on income at a rate of 5.9 percent in 2010. That same tax has now been reduced to 0 percent according to the Department of Budget. Manufacturers also receive a 20 percent real property tax credit if they own or lease property.
Corporate taxes are also lower. In 2010, the corporate net income tax was 7.1 percent. Now, it’s 6.5 percent.
Property taxes statewide continue to rise despite a state imposed cap. Most municipalities are not able to raise property taxes more than 2 percent without voter approval. The Department of Budget says the property tax bill for a typical taxpayer is more than the state income tax amount. A report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy shows a resident's income level determines which tax hits the hardest.
School taxes rose in the four years following the cap’s implementation in 2012, according to the Empire Center for Public Policy. School taxes are usually the largest part of a municipality’s property tax bill. The level of state aid to schools affects how much districts raise in property taxes.
The rate at which these taxes increased is lower now than it was four years ago. Before the tax cap, the average property tax increase was 5.3 percent a year. The average increase was 2.2 percent in the first three years after the cap took effect, according to a report from the state.
The first 4 percentage points of sales taxes are levied by the state. Anything beyond that is levied by counties or cities. Increases in the local portion beyond 3 percent must be approved by the state Legislature and signed by the governor.
The state portion of sales taxes has been unchanged since Cuomo took office. But the local portion has increased in seven counties, each time with state approval. The Essex County sales tax rate, for example, increased from 3.75 percent to 4 percent in 2013.
"Taxes for every New Yorker are lower today than when I started," Cuomo said during an event in Fishkill.
If Cuomo had said income taxes for every New Yorker are now lower, he would have been right. It’s true that income taxes for individuals, corporations, and manufacturers are lower than when he took office in 2011.
Although the Cuomo administration has slowed property tax growth through a state-imposed cap, property taxes continue to increase for residents. And the property tax takes a bigger bite than the income tax for many residents.
Also, the state has also approved some sales tax increases at the county level since Cuomo took office.
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