Tax-Free NY will entice companies to bring their ventures to Upstate New York by offering new businesses the opportunity to operate completely tax-free – including no income tax for employees, no sales, property or business tax – while also partnering with the world-class higher education institutions in the SUNY system.In effect, we are looking at a new incarnation of the enterprise zone, though thankfully without regulatory incentives to go with the fiscal incentives. Unfortunately, enterprise zones don't work very well, so the lack of regulatory exemptions is cold comfort.
Another strike against this program is that it explicitly allows companies to use it if they relocate from other states. Of course, relocation from within the state is prohibited:
Protecting Against Fraud: Tax-Free NY will include a series of provisions to protect against fraud. Businesses will have to submit certification to ESD [Empire State Development], and falsifying certifications will be a crime. The initiative will include strict provisions to guard against "shirtchanging," or when a company reincorporates under a new name and claims its existing employees are now new jobs. The initiative will also include measures to prevent self-dealing and conflicts of interest. In cases of fraud, the state will be empowered to claw-back benefits granted to the business.Proving once again, as Good Jobs First reported in "The Job Creation Shell Game," that states already know how to write anti-piracy language. They just don't apply it to themselves.
Finally, as Citizens for Tax Justice points out, this program would exacerbate the state's fiscal problems: "With the state budget office projecting (PDF) shortfalls ranging up to $3 billion per year in the coming years, removing entire companies from the tax rolls is hardly fiscally responsible."
Hopefully the state legislature will reject this poorly thought-out proposal.