Courthouse News Service: Millionaire New Yorkers to Rally in Albany for Tax Hike

By Amanda Ottaway on Courthouse News Service 

Urging state lawmakers to hike their taxes, clothing designer Eileen Fisher and Walt Disney’s great-niece will join a group of nearly three dozen wealthy New Yorkers for a demonstration Tuesday in Albany.

Fisher and Abigail Disney belong to a nationwide group that calls itself the Patriotic Millionaires.

Pairing with Responsible Wealth, a network of the nation’s top 5 percent in income or wealth, the group is offering specific suggestions on how to deal with what has been described as a funding scarcity in New York that could hurt social services and infrastructure.

New York has projected a budget shortfall of $4.4 billion for the 2018-19 fiscal year, according to the letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The letter, which is dated March 13, says a new tax on people with over $2 million meanwhile would raise $2 billion to $3 billion annually.

New York should also implement a statewide “recapture” system to redirect money saved by the Trump tax cuts and close a loophole on “carried interest,” the New Yorkers said, describing the latter as a “kickback to investment managers.”

Patriotic Millionaires spokesman Sam Quigley noted that these two suggestions are a direct response to recent changes in the federal tax code.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a long-running feud with Cuomo over funding for the city’s subway system, does support a state millionaires’ tax. He said in December that would be even more feasible if the Trump administration passed federal tax cuts, which it did — allowing the state to put millionaires’ money to local causes rather than the federal government.

Cuomo, on the other hand, said last year that any proposal of a millionaires’ tax for the subway would be “dead on arrival.”

Much of the politicians’ public disagreement on such a tax has focused specifically on the New York City subway system, but Monday’s letter proposes that the state spread the funds throughout the state.

“We are asking you to tax upper-income individuals like us, those who have benefited the most from the systems in place in New York and from the recent federal tax cuts, and who have the greatest ability to pay more,” the letter states (emphasis in original).

Quigley thinks the millionaires have a good shot.

“We definitely think this is doable,” he wrote in an email Monday, adding that Cuomo talked about closing the carried-interest loophole in his budget proposal earlier this year.

“He’s been a supporter of a more progressive tax system in the past, so we believe that this letter falls in line with his hopes for the budget,” Quigley wrote. “The state legislature is a different beast, but we’ve been hearing positive things so far!”

The Patriotic Millionaires, formed after President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for millionaires, are a collection of Americans with high net worth who say they want all their countrymen to have the same amount of political power as they do. They call themselves “proud traitors to their class.”

According to the letter, 3 million New Yorkers live in poverty, including about half of children in major cities.

“We’re all in on getting these provisions included in the state budget (since it has to be completed by the 1st), so our New York members are going to continue lobbying members of the legislature for the next couple weeks,” Quigley wrote Monday.

Those lobbyists see themselves as fighting for a good cause.

“Raising taxes on upper-income New Yorkers like us is the right thing to do morally,” they wrote in their letter. “We ask you to make us part of the solution to New York’s future.”

Representatives in Governor Cuomo’s office did not immediately return a request for comment Monday. The Patriotic Millionaires notes that some of those who signed the new letter will join New York lawmakers on March 13 for a press conference at the State Capitol building in Albany.

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