We are sure there are some who will benefit from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed Tax Free New York program.
The program offers new businesses the opportunity to operate with no state income tax for employees, no sales, property or business tax if they locate close to a State University of New York institution, including the State University at Fredonia and Jamestown Community College. Eligible businesses include companies with a relationship to the academic mission of the university and companies creating new jobs, including new businesses, out-of-state businesses that relocate to New York and existing businesses that expand their New York operations while maintaining their existing jobs.
On paper, the idea that New York could become a haven for business start-ups by partnering with colleges and the bright young minds they are producing each year is wonderful. If a state can't attract businesses from someplace else, it should do what it can to create new businesses of its own.
There is just one issue.
Tax Free New York is a tacit admission that taxes throughout New York state are so high and regulations are so onerous that it is incredibly difficult to get a business off the ground. High taxes, both state and local, eat up money that should be reinvested into a fledgling business and cut into profits to the point entrepreneurs just give up. Further, the program's areas of impact are too limited to provide a large-scale boost to the economy. We know there are plenty of existing spaces throughout Chautauqua County's urban cores where an enterprising young mind could set up shop - yet urban areas are still peppered with vacant buildings. Pushing development toward college campuses doesn't fix that problem. Lastly, Tax Free New York is incredibly unfair to business owners who have built their business up while, at the same time, paying taxes the governor is now saying need to be taken away from start-ups.
Tax Free New York is an admission that New York's tax burden is ridiculous and that government is throwing its hands up at reducing the tax burden any time soon. It is the wrong approach to take. Government at all levels must figure out, once and for all, how to cut taxes and then keep them low. It is the best way for the state to help business of all kinds.