In what is being hailed as a groundbreaking report that exposes tax cronyism amongst each individual state, the New York tax climate has been singled out as a textbook example of hypocrisy that creates one of the worst tax climates in the country, while simultaneously creating specialized tax carve-outs for certain industries.

The report released by the American Legislative Exchange Council, provides detailed information on why New York tax cronyism is out of control.

First, tax cronyism is defined as “the use of public policy to benefit a specific industry, firm, or individual, as opposed to setting broad and generally applicable rules and policies that apply to society as a whole.”

Second, they provide a chart which shows the number of targeted business incentives.  New York reigns supreme at a whopping 52,132.  The next closest state is Michigan, with 11,747.

Another chart shows the disparity between corporate tax expenditures and individual income tax expenditures.  For the most recent fiscal year reported, individual income taxes were raked in at $21.7 billion, while corporate taxes came in at $2.3 billion, just 1.80% of the budget.

Additionally, Governor Cuomo’s Start-Up NY is cited as a case study for why tax cronyism is detrimental to sound fiscal policy, creating preferential treatment for large corporations and placing a heavier tax burden on small businesses and individuals.

Start-Up NY is a $100 million program, an initiative designed to allow businesses that locate in close proximity to state college campuses to be rewarded with 10 years of tax free operations.


Case Study:  New York State

A textbook example of this hypocrisy is the state of New York.  The Empire State ranked dead last in the most recent edition of Rich States, Poor States:  ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index.  It also has the highest marginal corporate income tax rate in the nation and the second highest marginal personal income tax rate.  But despite New York’s refusal to acknowledge that taxes matter to economic growth, Governor Andre Cuomo and the state legislature have developed a plan to grow the economy:  create specialized tax carve-outs for industries and exempt them from one of the worst tax climates in the country by setting up “Empire Zones.” The Empire Zones are specific geographical areas that require would-be businesses to locate there and meet the zone’s many eligibility requirements. These requirements are laid out in a 64-page document and administered by the New York Department of Taxation and Finance.

Apparently the irony in providing generous tax carve-outs “needed” to foster new businesses in one of the worst tax policy climates is lost on the state’s lawmakers. Meanwhile, average New Yorkers will continue to pay much higher tax rates than the rest of the country so that these
special businesses and industries can be exempted.

New York Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin claims that the initiative was originally named the “tax free zone” act, but was renamed because “people saw it for what it is – a scam that will do virtually nothing to help NY.”

McLaughlin also claims that Cuomo has been shelling out $140 million in taxpayer money promoting the Start-Up NY program, along with advertisements trying to convince job creators that New York is “Open for Business” to no avail. “Zero companies have signed on for this so far,” he posted.

During a previous debate McLaughlin added, “Picking winners and losers through centralized planning has never, and will never work.”

Yet this is the big economic idea that Governor Cuomo has used in trying to lure businesses to his state. A state which ranks dead last for economic freedoms, last for business and business friendliness, and is one of the top 5 states people are fleeing.

The full tax cronyism report can be seen below…