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SALT TALK: Author Jules Verne was Architect of New York Tax Policy

Posted by Wayne K. Berkowitz CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Feb 11, 2019 11:40:00 AM
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Journey to the Center of the Earth, the 1864 science fiction novel by Jules Verne apparently is a favorite of a preponderance of New York lawmakers. The novel revolves around the premise that volcanic tubes permit travelling adventures to the center of the Earth. It seems as though our state and city leaders believe the notion that volcanic tubes or otherwise compel our presence here. If they have not read the book, I would imagine there are prints of those tacky maps of the world with New York at the center, hanging on the walls of their offices.

It has been a long time since I read Journey to the Center of the Earth, but it came to the forefront of my mind when reading this weekend’s New York Times. The headline, “The $238 Million Penthouse Provokes a Fierce Response: Tax It” quickly caused me to murmur to Java, my trusty American Cocker Spaniel, here they go again. While Java did not ask me what I was referring to, you may be curious.

Every so often, a bill floats to the surface in the State Legislature to create a “pied-a-terre” tax. The tax aims to capture (additional) revenue from wealth property owners who do not maintain these residences as their primary abode. Nothing like a record sales price to bring sinking legislation to the surface.

Add to this resurfacing Governor Cuomo’s recent Budget Proposal to extend the scheduled-to-expire (tax years beginning after 2019) Personal Income tax bracket of 8.82% through 2024, it seems miraculous that any of us stay put in New York. Rumor has it that the widely touted Amazon headquarters in Long Island City may be sinking straight to the center of the earth as well.

We all know (at least us New Yorkers do) this is a great place to live and work. Nevertheless, everyone has his or her limits. Our leaders need to get new maps that recognize not all roads lead to New York. We do need to reestablish however, that all of the best ones do.

If I have raised questions, contact me at WBerkowitz@BerdonLLP.com or your Berdon advisor.

Wayne Berkowitz, a tax partner and head of the State and Local Tax Group at Berdon LLP, advises on the unique requirements of governments and municipalities across the nation.

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