Tag Archives: Hicksville

Op-ed: Tax Equity for New Yorkers


| oped@queenscourier.com

U.S. REP. STEVE ISRAEL

Brian and Amy are your typical middle-class New Yorkers. They’ve worked hard to build a comfortable life for their three children in Hicksville, Long Island, and hoped to remain there to be near family.

However, every year during tax season they are hit by a bill from the federal government that makes them question if they will be able to continue living in such a high-cost area. Their story is all too familiar and I wanted proof that we need to change the federal tax code to account for New York families facing some of the highest costs of living in the country.

To get an answer, I asked Third Way, a centrist think tank focused on middle-class issues especially relevant to families in our area, to actually crunch the data on how much New Yorkers pay in federal taxes compared to similar families across the country. The report, “A Tale of Three Cities,” compared the effects of the federal tax code on three typical middle-class families — one from Hicksville, New York, another from Akron, Ohio, and a third from McAllen, Texas.

The numbers were striking. The data shows that New Yorkers pay more in federal taxes because the federal tax code does not account for differences in wages and costs of living across different regions. This means that many New York families who are solidly middle class, but may make more on paper than similar families elsewhere, do not qualify for many income-based tax credits.

For example, a worker in low-cost, low-wage McAllen, Texas, can qualify for tax credits to help with his child care costs, while a similarly hard-working New Yorker, who may earn more, but also pays more for everything from gasoline to groceries, can’t access the same amount of benefi ts. Applying the same tax code to families in vastly different circumstances makes no sense — even a Quarter Pounder at McDonald’s costs $1 more in Nassau County than it does in McAllen.

Even worse, in an expensive area like New York, a working- class family can end up owing thousands of dollars on its federal tax return, while a nearly identical family in low-cost McAllen can end up receiving thousands in return.

This glaring inequality is just plain wrong. Regional differences in costs of living should be accounted for in the federal tax code.

Two bills I’ve introduced would help level the playing field for New York taxpayers. The Tax Equity Act would adjust tax brackets for all areas with a higher cost-of-living than the national average, and the Student Loan Employment Benefits Act would allow those working to set aside up to $5,000 of their salary, tax-free, to repay their student loans. I am also drafting legislation that would index future tax credits to regional costs of living.

These common-sense measures will strengthen the middle class and lay the foundation for New York’s future. It’s time to give New York taxpayers like Amy and Brian the fairness they deserve.

The full Third Way Report can be viewed at www.israel.house.gov.

 

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Fare hikes may raise monthly MetroCard to $125, cut discounts


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Ahead of public hearings on fare hikes next month, the MTA has proposed four options for when it raises MetroCard prices in March, the New York Daily News reported.

These changes would garner $232 million in additional revenue, said the paper.

“We have cut discretionary spending to the tune of $700 million and will see a reduction of more than $1 billion by 2014,” said MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz. “Unfortunately, we still need to raise fares and tolls to cover our growing non-discretionary costs like retiree benefits, pension and rising fuel costs.”

The MTA would not confirm the proposed options that the Daily News reported, and will publically release them on Monday, October 15, said Ortiz.

The first option would raise the costs of the weekly unlimited MetroCard from $29 to $34 and the monthly from $104 to $125. A straphanger would need to take 16 rides in seven days for the weekly or 56 rides in 30 days for the monthly, before saving money.

Also under this first proposal, MetroCard bonuses would be lowered to five percent. Currently, riders receive a seven percent discount each time they pay $10.

The second option only raises weekly and monthly MetroCards to $32 and $119, but gets rid of all Pay-Per-Ride bonuses.

In September, MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph Lhota publically said that even if the transit agency cuts MetroCard discounts it may still need to hike fares in order to raise the agency’s revenues.

The other two options would increase the base fare to $2.50, but would still lower MetroCard bonuses.

According to the MTA’s 2012 to 2016 financial plan, if it raises fares and tolls again in 2015, as is expected, those increases would be three times the estimated rate of inflation.

Riders will get a chance to sound off about the proposed hikes, which could also affect commuter train prices and bridge and tunnels tolls, when the MTA holds public hearings next month.

In Queens, the hearing will be held on November 15 at 5 p.m. in the ballroom of the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel in Flushing. That month there will also be video conference hearings at the Hicksville and Ronkonkoma LIRR stations, in Lower Manhattan and at the Poughkeepsie Metro-North station.

Public hearings: 

Wednesday, November 7

Long Island – 5 p.m.
Roosevelt Hall
Little Theater
Farmingdale State College
2350 Broadhollow Road
Farmingdale, New York

Brooklyn– 5 p.m.
NY Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge
333 Adams Street
Brooklyn, New York

Manhattan – 5 p.m.
Baruch Performing Arts Center, Mason Hall
Baruch College
17 Lexington Avenue (at 23rd St.)
New York, New York

Bronx – 5 p.m.
Main Theater
Hostos Community College
Center for the Arts & Culture
450 Grand Concourse
Bronx, New York

Newburgh– 5 p.m.
Vanderbilt/Astor Rooms
Hilton Garden Inn, Newburgh/Stewart Airport
15 Crossroads Court
Newburgh, New York

Staten Island– 5 p.m
Center for the Arts, Springer Concert Hall
College of Staten Island
2800 Victory Blvd.
Staten Island, New York

Thursday, November 15

Westchester– 5 p.m.
Auditorium
Yonkers Public Library – Riverfront Library
One Larkin Center
Yonkers, New York

Queens– 5 p.m.
Ballroom
Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel
135-20 39th Avenue
Flushing, New York

Video conference hearings:

Thursday, November 8

9 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
2 Broadway (3 Stone St. entrance), bid room suite, Manhattan

Tuesday, November 13

6 a.m.-10 a.m.
Hicksville Long Island Rail Road Station Building

4:00 -8 p.m.
Poughkeepsie Metro-North Station, pedestrian overpass

Wednesday, November 14

6-10 a.m.
Ronkonkoma Long Island Rail Road Station Building