NEW YORK – Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris is continuing to push for his legislation (S.1195) to remove the state tax break for the federal Opportunity Zone program. Twenty-four community, labor, and advocacy organizations signed a new memo, published by Reinvent Albany. The full memo is available online: https://reinventalbany.org.
“The Opportunity Zone program was intended to help economically distressed areas but is being abused to grant tax breaks to already overdeveloped neighborhoods, including Hudson Yards,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “At a time when the state budget is in dire straits, a giveaway to wealthy developers is the last thing we need.”
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said, "If there were ever a time for New York to stop giving away tons of money to the superwealthy, this is the year to do it. It is outright foolish for New York state to forego this tax revenue so that high-powered and well-connected real estate developers can make extra profits on projects that they were more than likely already in the process of building. As we continue to work in the Assembly for a budget that prioritizes the middle class, working class, and low-income New Yorkers – eliminating this de facto double dip by luxury real estate developers into the taxpayers' pocket is common sense.”
Groups supporting the legislation include Reinvent Albany, NYSUT, 1199 SEIU, CWA District 1, Make the Road NY, ALIGN-NY, NYPIRG, Chinese-American Planning Council, Citizen Action of NY, Coalition for Economic Justice, Community Service Society of NY, Fiscal Policy Institute, Good Jobs First, Institute on Taxation and Policy, Legal Aid Society, Long Island Progressive Coalition, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson, Pratt Center, PSC–CUNY, RWDSU, Strong Economy For All, Tenants PAC, and UFCW Local 1500.
The legislation is co-sponsored in the Senate by Senators Jamaal Bailey, Brad Hoylman, Robert Jackson, Liz Krueger, Zellnor Myrie, Jessica Ramos, Gustavo Rivera, and Julia Salazar.
The federal tax overhaul passed in 2017 included a provision aimed at incentivizing investment in economically distressed areas. In 2018, the state was supposed to designate census tracts that qualified as “Opportunity Zones” but also included other areas already suffering from overdevelopment and gentrification. Among these areas are wealthy parts of Manhattan and Long Island City, already among the fastest growing neighborhoods in the United States.
Investors who create opportunity funds to invest in these census tracts are able to defer large amounts from their federal taxes. Much of New York’s tax code is linked to the federal tax code and Senator Gianaris’ legislation would prevent a massive and unjust giveaway of state resources to the wealthy.