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Buffalo Niagara Partnership backs Unshackle Upstate’s tax-cut plan

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is backing the proposal for steep tax cuts for upstate businesses and individuals advocated by the Unshackle Upstate business group.

“By addressing upstate’s troublesome tax burden, overarching regulations and tapping into its regional assets the ... plan will allow upstate to prosper,” said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, the partnership’s president.

The partnership was one of the founding members of the Unshackle Upstate coalition.

The Unshackle plan calls for more than $800 million in tax cuts for businesses and individuals, coupled with an end to state restrictions that have prevented natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale that lies beneath portions of upstate New York.

The plan calls for:

• A 25 percent cut in the state income tax for upstate residents earning less than $50,000 a year, which would reduce state revenues by about $225 million annually.

• A phase-out of the state’s corporate franchise tax on upstate businesses over a four-year period. That reduction, which would lower state revenues by $273 million in the upcoming fiscal year, would eliminate the franchise tax in four equal installments. The franchise tax would be reduced by 25 percent in 2014-15, by 50 percent the following year and by 75 percent in 2016-17. By the 2017-18 fiscal year, it would be repealed entirely.

• A 50 percent reduction in the state’s portion of the sales tax – to 2 percent, from 4 percent – for upstate counties that have had significant declines in population and high unemployment. The sales tax cut would reduce state revenues by an estimated $250 million.

• A repeal of the additional energy surcharge that was imposed on manufacturers several years ago, reducing state revenues by about $190 million in the fiscal year that begins in 2014.

• An end to the state’s moratorium on natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale and other shale formations across portions of upstate New York.

Lifting the ban would generate about $78 million in revenues for the state in the coming fiscal year and yield even more money for the state in future years as drilling expands.