September 1, 2020

Nine in Ten New Yorkers Support Increased Taxes on Incomes of $1 million and Above; Overwhelming Majority Oppose Cuts to Social Services to Address Budget Gap

New York – As New York State faces a dire budget crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, new polling conducted by a coalition of unions shows an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers continue to support increased taxes on the wealthy to close the deficit, rather than drastic cuts to education, healthcare and transportation and other social services. The poll, which sampled 663 registered New York voters from August 12 to 18, found no difference in public support for tax hikes starting at $1 million or $5 million in annual income. 90 percent support higher taxes on incomes over $1 million, while 88 percent support increases on incomes over $5 million. Support for higher taxes on the wealthy cuts across both partisan and geographical lines. 92 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans are in favor, while at least 86 percent of New York City, suburban and upstate voters are supportive.

In contrast, voters resoundingly say that cuts in funding for services are unacceptable, including for the elderly and persons with disabilities (86 percent), healthcare (82 percent), K-12 schools (81 percent), unemployment benefits (75 percent), and infrastructure (72 percent). 89 percent of voters said that raising taxes on incomes $1 million and over is an unacceptable way to close the budget deficit, with 90 percent agreeing for incomes over $5 million. These numbers show that voters do not discriminate between raising taxes on the wealthy at any income level.

“New Yorkers continue to make clear that getting out of this budget crisis requires shared sacrifice. The poor and working class should not have to shoulder all the burdens when they have already been disproportionately affected  by the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Higher taxes on the 1/2 of 1% of New Yorkers who make $20,000 a week or more is a common sense solution that can avoid drastic cuts to critical social services that are needed more than ever. It’s time for our legislative leaders to listen to voters and take action,” said Bob Master, Assistant to the Vice President, CWA District One.

“Across the board cuts fall most heavily on New Yorkers already hit hardest by the pandemic and its economic fallout. The state must get our economic engine running while awaiting essential federal funding. That means supporting, rather than slashing, the public services relied on by New Yorkers. Firing teachers, first responders, and cutting programs essential to our most vulnerable community members only makes it harder for people, communities, and our state to get back on a solid financial footing,” said Ron Deutsch, Executive Director, The Fiscal Policy Institute. “Polling proves again the majority of New Yorkers support just taxation that requires us all to equitably contribute to the programs and services that help New Yorkers grow and prosper, make our communities livable, and strengthen our state. We cannot ask struggling New Yorkers to shoulder the pandemic’s burden without asking those with the most means to do their fair share.”

“As millions of New Yorkers struggle to put food on the table or pay their rent, New York State is choosing to cut funding from schools, hospitals and housing instead of raising taxes on the rich. This poll makes clear: an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers want our leaders to ask the wealthy to pay more so everyone can survive. The choice is simple: New York State can continue to cut essential services for New Yorkers in need during a pandemic, or the wealthiest can pay more. It’s time to protect the immigrants, communities of color and working families who make New York run,” said Strong Economy for All Director Michael Kink.

The polling comes as New York faces a $30 billion budget deficit over the next two years. With federal aid from Congress looking increasingly unlikely, the state has already begun to cut  aid to cities and localities, which has led to layoffs for essential workers and threatens funding for schools,  non-profit organizations and infrastructure projects. While the state is insistent on cutting services for the working class and poor, new data recently revealed the net worth of New York’s 118 billionaires increased by $77 billion during coronavirus, or 15%, from March 18th to June 17, for a total of $600 billion.

Higher taxes on the wealthy could potentially raise billions, and there is already significant support in Albany. 103 State Legislators pledged to block any budget cuts without higher taxes on the rich, and

several bills have already been introduced, including a billionaire’s and ultra millionaire’s tax that would raise $5.5 and $4.5 billion respectively. Legislation that would institute a pied-a-terre tax would generate $650 million in revenue, while a stock transfer tax would net $13 billion.

In addition to higher income taxes on the ultra-wealthy, 93 percent of those surveyed support a pied-a-terre tax on luxury homes and apartments in New York City that are worth over $5 million.

70 percent of voters rejected the premise that higher taxes would hurt the economy and cause high income earners to move to other states, Research backs up this sentiment and has found that millionaires rarely move across state lines, and when they do, high taxes are not the reason. Furthermore, 70 percent of voters also stated we need shared sacrifice to address the budget deficit, which includes asking the wealthiest to pay slightly higher taxes to avoid cuts to services.