Paterson Aims His Tax Arrows at the Rich

Tax hike for rich gaining steam

Earning more than $300,000 a year may seem other-worldly to many struggling amid the economic downtown, but there are still many people rolling in the dough – and Gov. David Paterson wants them to step up to the plate.

Paterson and his band of merry men in Albany are trying to find ways to increase the state’s personal income tax, and legislative leaders are looking to the rich to do it.

Assembly Democrats advocate a multi-tier plan that would slap those who earn between $300,000 and $500,000 annually with a 7.97 percent personal income-tax rate – an increase from the current top rate of 6.85 percent, according to the Daily News.

The tax rate would jump to 8.47 percent for those who make between $500,000 and $1 million a year, and to 8.97 percent for those who earn more, the paper reported.

As Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver put it bluntly, “Everything’s on the table.”

Senate Democrats apparently believe that the $300,000 earners fall under the cap and want the tax increase to apply to those earning $350,000 or more. Their plan would plug an additional $6 billion into the faltering state economy, and the Senate said it would give $1.5 billion to the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which recently announced its doomsday budget plan to raise fares and cut service unless Albany comes to the rescue.

However, neither Paterson nor Silver are buying the Senate plan, so it’s unlikely to go anywhere, a source close to the talks told the Daily News.

Paterson has been wishy-washy on the idea of a tax hike for the rich, but the additional $2.2 billion budget deficit that has appeared in recent weeks – augmenting the already $14 billion shortfall – may have some influence in changing his mind.

Still, Republicans say “no way, no how.” Some state Republican leaders argue such a tax hike would drive the wealthy out of the state.

Paterson has proposed an avalanche of tax hikes in recent months, a few of which have passed but none with the promise of doing much to balance the budget. Silver said a state sales tax is improbable, according to the Daily News.

The rich won’t have long to wonder whether they’ll be paying more in personal income tax, however; Albany has a deadline to vote on the budget by Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, most New Yorkers continue to pick up stray nickels they find on the floor.

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