Tax rankings: New York is still the worst

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ALBANY—New York's tax climate isn't all that great, according to a national tax-policy think tank.

The Empire State finished dead last in the Tax Foundation's annual ranking of state tax codes, in line with its poor ranking last year. The right-leaning group cited New York's income taxes and corporate taxes. It says its analysis examined 100 variables.

”Property taxes and unemployment insurance taxes are levied in every state, but there are several states that do without one or more of the major taxes: the corporate tax, the individual income tax, or the sales tax,” the report states. “Wyoming, Nevada, and South Dakota have no corporate or individual income tax; Alaska has no individual income or state-level sales tax; Florida has no individual income tax; and New Hampshire and Montana have no sales tax.”

Republicans in New York often point to these studies when they're disparaging the Democratic power structure, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo's aides denounced the study as “partisan,” as they did last year, and pointed to a Forbes magazine ranking that ranked New York's business climate 21st, as well as a U.S. Chamber of Commerce report that praised New York's recent economic policies.

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“Over the last three years, New York State has added more than 300,000 private sector jobs, received a positive outlook from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, reduced barriers and lowered taxes for businesses and put the state on secure fiscal footing," Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said. "Objective examinations of New York’s record by credible sources have reflected these facts.”

Cuomo restructured the tax code at the end of 2011 to renew most of an expiring income tax surcharge and trim, slightly, the rates for middle-income taxpayers. Last week he proposed his second tax panel in ten months, tasking co-chairs George Pataki and Carl McCall with finding ways to further reduce taxes.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses said the report underscores the urgency in its efforts.

”The state has spent millions trying to change improve its image as a business-friendly place. That money will have been wasted without real tax reform,” said NFIB Executive Director Mike Durant. “It’s time for everyone in Albany to stop talking about taxes and do something to improve our competitiveness.”

CORRECTION: This story originally stated that the Tax Foundation was affiliated with Grover Norquist. Norquist's group is Americans for Tax Reform.