New York's "Tax-Free" Zones Make University Presidents Central Planners


Credit: Pat Arnow/wikimedia

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation on Monday that would grant tax exemptions to new businesses in the state as part of the "Start-Up NY Program."

In pushing the program, Cuomo channeled free market rhetoric:

Over the past two years, we've changed the economic development paradigm from an Albany-top-down model to a jobs agenda built from the ground up. 

For participating businesses, this means virtually no state taxation on business or personal income. Sounds great, but the program is anything but "ground up."

The program only authorizes tax-free zones for new businesses located on or within a mile of all state university campuses or selected private colleges outside Long Island and New York City. The law tasks university leaders with sponsoring tax-free zones, and it's up to them to choose the "type of business," and to show how "businesses align with or further the academic mission."

At least one state assemblyman, Joseph Borelli (R-Staten Island),  has been outspoken in his criticism of the program:

"This proposal is one of the most disingenuous I've ever heard," said Borelli. "It acknowledges that New York's tax structure is crippling business and then does nothing to address it…

In sum, this allows a politically connected panel to pick winners and losers. What the talking points that support the proposal fail to mention is that the losers are every one of the state's 2 million existing businesses. This could correctly be called crony capitalism.

In addition to granting university leaders with economic planning powers, the incentives mostly favor upstate New York, as only a handful of New York State's public institutions are located within New York City and Long Island. The bill demands to be cited as the "SUNY Tax-Free Areas to Revitalize and Transform Upstate Program."

Cuomo thinks this could reverse the tide in New York's drying jobs market: 

Our big problem right now is we're creating jobs on our college campuses, but we lose 75 percent of the jobs we create within the first year. … Why? Because they're going to lower-tax states.

This, I believe, is going to end that. We created them, we keep them, we let them grow. If we keep them for 10 years, they'll develop roots in the community, they buy a house, their kids will be in our school systems, but we have to get past that initial one-year, two-year period where they're leaving now for more competitive states.

Texas Governor Rick Perry has released a series of ads on the east coast in an attempt to lure companies from high-tax states like New York.

Read Ira Stoll's take on New York's "Tax-Free" program here.

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  1. The free-market in action. Run, as it should be, by Top. Men.

    1. Hey – freedum ain’t FREE!

  2. New York – making other states look good for….ever.

    1. Well, except California.

  3. I don’t know why I subject myself to the comment sections of some news sites. I guess it’s just a tiny sliver of hope that they won’t be filled with idiots, but alas disappointment every time.

    Weapons grade stupidity on that politico comment section.

    1. It’s a shame that we can’t actually weaponize the stupidity. If we could, it would make nuclear arms seem quaint.

  4. We’ll give them a good deal to start, and then when it would be too much of a hassle to move, we’ll really put the screws to them!

    1. That’s exactly what this program sounds like. It’s a bait and switch.

      It’s easier to implement and remove than a tax cut. Lure them in with the carrot and then fuck them.

      1. Ha! You thought you would eat the carrot; however and unfortunately for you it goes in the other end.

        1. …along with the stick.

          They just use the carrot as leverage to open the anus wider.

          1. And then you eat the carrot when you’re done and pretend it’s covered in chocolate sauce.

            1. Please remit the 8.875% sales tax on the items.

              1. Fuck that, healthy food, which includes poo-covered carrots, are exempt from sales taxes.

                1. How can you combat a food desert if you don’t tax food providers?

                  1. I started to give you a snarky answer, and then stopped, dumbfounded, as I realized, “This is what progressives actually believe.” I know better than to be shocked by their rank ignorance anymore, but sometimes, it still hits home like a ton of bricks.

                    1. But this time it will work! We just need a decade or so to prove it!

                    2. obama4lyfe yo

                    3. This should be the caption of so many memes…

    2. Will it really work? There are plenty of states with no income tax regardless of how long you have been there. Most business owners are smart enough to see the difference.

      1. Most business owners are smart enough to see the difference.

        I’d like to believe that, but business owners are also human, and there are reasons why places like Mississippi remain much, much, much poorer than NY or Cali. Business owners fall into it as much as anyone else wanting to live somewhere hip and cool, and most definately NOT republican. Many willfully put up with higher taxes because it’s worth it to them to live in a culture they feel more at home with.

        I mean, ask any business owner why he stays in California instead of relocating. You’ll hear jokes about the “weather tax”, but the reality is, they’d much rather pay through the nose than suffer the indignity of ever living someplace that isn’t “cool”.

        1. Also takes advantage of the fact that some folks just cannot emotionally handle moving, or handle it very poorly. It’s bizarre to someone like myself, but there are scads of people that can’t bring themselves to relocate for any number of reasons. Culture, family, familiarity, etc. Some will stay inside their invisible fence no matter what happens or is coming down the pike.

          1. Quite right. Many people don’t want to leave their family, no matter what. Or their friends, or the place they grew up in.

            Hell, depite going to college six hours away (in the same state! Texas is a big place), I own a house literally 2 miles from my dad’s place, where I grew up.

            Home draws some people like a lodestone.

            1. 6 hours would most likely make you a Red Raider. Hmmmm.

              1. FUCK YES SON!!!

                WRECK’EM TECH!!!

                *eyes Apatheist warily*

            2. I’ve moved continuously farther away from home. Now I’m the entire continental US away from home. Next move: Hawaii!

              1. Honestly, I just like living here. It’s familiar, and I’m fairly financially conservative. I’d move for the right job opportunity, but it would have to be a done deal before I moved.

                Plus, the wife likes being near her parents. They don’t speak da english so well, and use her as a translator for many things (doctors, DMV, etc.)

        2. I don’t know. If you leave out greater NYC, is upstate NY really all that wealthier or more “hip and cool” than Mississippi?

          1. Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester – No thanks, I would rather be picking cotton.

        3. People value things other than tax rates, cost of living, and politics when it comes to where they want to live. And there isn’t anything wrong with that.

      2. Well, I think my own situation. I love Western New York for a number of reasons. It’s a great place to raise my son. I’ll be starting a new business this year. Since I don’t want to move, I have to admit being somewhat tempted by the offer.

        The problem is that it will force me to move out to the burbs instead of starting up in the city of Buffalo. Instead of living close to my job, I’ll have to commute to an area that will be, let’s face it, like living on the land of a feudal lord.

        God damn I hate the government of my state. (Also, it’s not my regions fault. We simply can’t match the votes coming from New York city.)

  5. OT: A Bok cartoon THAT’S ALMOST FUNNY! Putin needz moar pecs, but otherwise…


    1. Holy shit, I almost-kinda-sort grinned at that. What is the world coming to!?

  6. Strap in folks, this one’s a real doozy…

    The real question should be whether it’s moral to outlaw consenting adults from making any particular arrangement (account for negative externalities, where they actually exist). AFAIK, all libertarian philosophies say “NO!”


    It would be funny, except it’s awful, because someone was murdered and it turns out that you can basically get away with murder in Florida if you create even the barest bones plausibility for self-defense, up to and including chasing someone down until they, fearing they have no other choice, take a swing at you in hopes to escape your scary ass. If I understand correctly, that’s Zimmerman’s defense and how fucking crazy is that if it works?!

    I think the real question is why someone with a reputation for supporting blatantly false allegations in legal trials (*cough*DukeLacrosseTeam*cough*) would be so stupid as to do so again in another high-profile, controversial case. Well, it would be a question if we were talking about anyone besides Marcotte…

    1. At the risk of sounding like a misogynist, I think she just needs a good fucking.

      1. She needs a good ignoring. Why anyone pays the slightest attention to her is beyond me.

        1. Because she’s hilariously stupid — why else?

          1. I don’t have the same taste for consuming stupidity that some of you do. I really don’t. Disgustingness? Gore? Sure. But not willful stupidity.

            1. Have you seen “The ABCs of Death”? The execution is wildly uneven, but I really, really enjoyed the concept.

              1. No, but I have watched portions of Faces of Death.

                1. Pfft, any other grainy maybe-fake footage from the early 90s you want to brag about?

                  1. Not really.

        2. Ignoring her and fucking her are not necessarily mutually exclusive if you’re as much of a casual abuser of women as I am.

          Just don’t let Warty loose on her. There’s no ignoring that. Though you might want to protect him from poachers; I read yesterday that the African black rhino or some such is now officially extinct due to people hunting for their horns. I imagine this would apply to Warty’s…protrusions…as well.

          1. Witness JJ bragging about having a penis so small that he can be both fucking a chick and having her ignore him at the same time.

            1. It comes in way more handy than you can ever realize.

            2. Magnificently turned you evil bastard!

            3. The corkscrew-shaped penis has been very convenient for him so far.

    2. Dammit, I quoted that wrong:

      If you ever want to get a full eyeball of how little value is put on the life of a young black man by white nitwits, just watch all the digressions and whining and mockery inspired by the George Zimmerman trial.


      It would be funny, except it’s awful, because someone was murdered and it turns out that you can basically get away with murder in Florida if you create even the barest bones plausibility for self-defense, up to and including chasing someone down until they, fearing they have no other choice, take a swing at you in hopes to escape your scary ass.

      Rich, oxidated lodes of stupidity at the link. Seriously, I thought about quoting the whole damn thing for effect.

    3. Bonus quotes:

      She was there to defend her friend. And herself. Though she was not on trial, she seemed to know instinctively that Black womanhood, Black manhood, and urban adolescence is always on trial in the American imaginary.

      [Rachel Jenteal has] also become a massive object of fun for soulless racists, who enjoy mocking her for being fat, speaking with an accent, being a 19-year-old who drinks and parties, and who is combative with the defense attorney who is trying to get the guy who murdered her friend off for his crime.

      to bring it up now because Rachel Jeantel, the last person who spoke to Trayvon Martin before he was shot to death by George Zimmerman, mentioned that Martin called Zimmerman a “creepy-ass cracker”, makes you a moral monster.

      1. The American Imaginary!

      2. Seriously, fuck me. This is supposed to be in the PM links.

        1. I don’t understand your Black Womanhood!

    4. It would be funny, except it’s awful, because someone was murdered

      PAUSE. Dumbass is arguing facts not in evidence.

      and it turns out that you can basically get away with murder in Florida if you create even the barest bones plausibility for self-defense

      PAUSE. Self-defense is not a question of plausability, it is one of fact. A defendant has to prove that they had a reasonable belief (repeat after me class: I was in fear for my life) that their person was danger and acted accordingly.

      up to and including chasing someone down until they, fearing they have no other choice, take a swing at you in hopes to escape your scary ass.

      So standing your ground is not okay when fat white-hispanic guy does it, but a-okay when skinny black kid does it because….


  7. Jesus, University Presidents are going to be in charge of this? Well, expect a shit ton of organic co-ops and womyn’s centers, and not many, y’know, productive businesses.

    1. And requests for donations accordingly.

    2. So the way I read this, there won’t be room enough for any affordable student housing within a mile of campus?

  8. I would think a popular new business type that would like to open within one mile of a college campus would be TAVERN.

    Nanny State must have an exception for that business going tax-free. Or the liquor license will be eleventy bajillion dollars.

  9. but the program is anything but “ground up.”

    On the government totem pole, college presidents are on the bottom. That’s what they mean by “ground up”.

    Private citizens rank somewhere below the limestone to these authoritarians.

  10. How about making state universities no government spending zones.

  11. Horrible proposal, but cutting taxes on upstate in general is not a bad idea. Businesses are willing to pay Vampire State taxes to have a presence in Manhattan — Syracuse not so much.

    1. Well, better that someone’s taxes possibly be cut than nobody’s, right? It’s not as if the failure to enact this would get broader tax reductions enacted. Rather, the failure to pass this would be taken as a signal against tax cuts in general.

      NY already has at least one income tax credit that I can’t figure out how anybody qualifies for. At least twice I’ve cajoled myself into going thru the calculation. It has something to do with residential rent, but it looks like nobody could even come close to the parameters to qualify.

  12. Free market for my cronies and me, but not for thee.

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