2012-08-23 / Front Page

Local Officials Thrilled at Court Ruling Against MTA Tax

Decision could upend what remains of the unpopular levy
Douglas Cunningham

Local officials were thrilled Thursday by a decision in Nassau County State Supreme Court that struck down the MTA payroll tax as unconstitutional.

The tax was projected to bring in $1.26 billion this year for the MTA, and was especially unpopular in the suburbs. While parts of it have been repealed, other aspects remain.

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell issued this statement:

“The MTA payroll tax was created in May of 2009 as a mechanism for the MTA to dig itself out of a projected $1.8 billion budgetary shortfall, which created an unjust and inequitable burden on the taxpayers of Putnam County.  In light of this unfair treatment, Putnam County took up the cause on behalf of its taxpayers, and joined in this important piece of litigation.  I am elated that the Court has now ruled in favor of Putnam County and its Metropolitan neighbors.  It sends a very real message to the MTA that the taxpayers of Putnam and the surrounding counties will not allow them to cure their financial on the backs of our citizens and small business owners.  Hopefully, our small business owners who are so vital to the health of Putnam’s economy will quickly realize a benefit from the repeal of this tax.”

Assemblyman Steve Katz, who serves the 99th District of New York, said, “I applaud the Court’s decision today. This ruling will remove the yoke of an unconstitutional tax from the necks of Hudson Valley taxpayers. My team and I will fight to have the Metropolitan Transportation Authority return every illegally-obtained penny to the hard-working voters who paid this unjust tax.”

Meanwhile, state Sen. Greg Ball also led a number of local officials in hailing the decision. He issued the news release below about the matter:


Yorktown, N.Y. – 8/23/12 – Senator Greg Ball (R, C-Patterson) hosted a press conference on Thursday morning in Yorktown to celebrate the state Supreme Court ruling that the controversial MTA payroll tax is unconstitutional. Ball is now calling for a retroactive refund of the 2009 tax that was costing 34 cents per hundred dollars of payroll for employers.

"Since this tax was created, I have been fighting for a full repeal, and this ruling will allow us to make our 80 percent repeal a full repeal and on an expedited time frame," said Senator Greg Ball. "I am so happy to hear that this job-killing tax was ruled unconstitutional, and now its time to demand a full repeal as well as a retroactive refund! I will be working with my colleagues in the legislature along with the Governor to expedite this process and finally repeal this horrific tax, the vampire of all taxes, for good."

The court’s ruling was the result of a lawsuit brought against the MTA by Nassau County. On August 5, 2010 Ball held a joint press conference with members of the Putnam County Legislature to announce the County’s intention to join the class-action lawsuit. (Click here to read more.)

“This is good news for Westchester County and its municipalities,” said Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino. “The MTA payroll tax is essentially an unfunded mandate from Albany.  In this case, we were allowed to challenge it. We did.  And now we’ve won an important victory with the court’s decision that this unfair burden on taxpayers was unconstitutional.”

“Since being elected, I have fought for a full repeal of the onerous MTA payroll tax, a forensic audit of the agency, and legal and legislative action to see this mandate done away with,” Assemblyman Robert Castelli said. “This year we repealed the tax for schools and 80% of small businesses, and now the Courts have fully eliminated this unconstitutional tax once and for all.”

State Sen. Greg Ball, center, speaks on the court decision regarding the MTA tax, surrounded by other local officials.State Sen. Greg Ball, center, speaks on the court decision regarding the MTA tax, surrounded by other local officials.

"We are all happy to see the MTA tax go and I think we all recognize that we need to properly fund the MTA, but this was the wrong way to do so. This was a job-killing tax,” said NYS Senate Candidate Bob Cohen. “Now with the death of this tax, we have the opportunity to show that New York State is ready to welcome entrepreneurs and small businesses. We should consider this is a victory for the business community, the taxpayers and the municipalities who were forced to pay this unconstitutional tax unfair, unfunded and now unconstitutional state tax." 

"Having fought with Senator Ball from day one against this abusive tax Judge Cozzens' ruling is a great victory for all Westchester taxpayers," Yorktown Councilman and small businesses owner Dr. Terrence Murphy said.  "Yorktown has sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to this defunct transportation system due to this tax and a refund check is the very least we deserve.  I applaud Senator Ball for his commitment to protecting Yorktown's taxpayers and look forward to our continued work together."

In Dec. 2011, Senator Ball passed legislation exempting 80 percent of companies from the MTA Payroll Tax. This was later followed by an exemption of Libraries and Schools.

For more information or to speak with Senator Ball, please contact Joe Bachmeier at (845) 200 9716.

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