It's not surprising news, but it's a reminder why people don't live in New York City. A report from the Independent Budget Office showed that New York City has the biggest tax burden than eight other big cities. In fact, NYC's tax burden is practically 50% higher than the average of cities like Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Houston, Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix and San Diego. (We don't know where San Francisco, Boston, or Seattle were during this survey.) For every $100, New York City's state and local taxes "absorbed" $9.02, while other cities average $6.16.
Local taxes are 90% higher in NYC than other cities' average, while state taxes in the city are 6% higher. The IBO says much of the NYC tax burden disparity is due to Medicaid and how the city and state fund it. Sales and property taxes are actually comparable to other cities - it's just the personal and business taxation where "New York City really stands out."
Naturally, the report raised many concerns. Representative Anthony Weiner took the opportunity to call for a tax cut, saying "It's time we gave the middle class a real tax cut. It's time we restored progressivity and fairness." Partnership for New York City CEO Kathryn Wylde told the Sun, "tax incentives for individual companies will no longer suffice" and the city and state will have to do more to keep them here.
The NY Times has some interesting context:
...Rae Rosen, a senior economist and assistant vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, warned that it was simplistic to compare New York with other large American cities. Unlike the largest cities in California and Texas, New York City is the pre-eminent economic engine of the state, she said, so it will inevitably bear a large proportion of the state’s tax burden.
She also noted that businesses stayed in New York even though labor and rent were their biggest expenses, not taxes. “If businesses are willing to locate here and pay some of the highest wages and rents in the nation, that’s by choice,” she said.
Addiitonally, the Sun reported the IBO's study used data from 2003-2004, which if before a Medicaid cap and "before the personal income tax surcharge expired," not that it's any less alarming. The Mayor's office doesn't agree with the study. Other politicians are cautiously saying the middle class needs help but emphasize that NYC does offer many services, so any tax cuts will have to take into not harming other programs.
One Brooklyn resident Jennifer Moore told Metro, “Taxes are always going to be higher in a city like New York than in Nowheresville, Kansas. But I grew up here. And I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
Photograph taken on tax day 2006 near the main USPS headquarers in Manhattan by David Reeves on Flickr