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Hastings Businesses Like MTA Payroll Tax Cut

HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – Taresa Caruso has run a business called Festivities in Hastings for the past 17 years and has seen her costs go up and up. She said any tax breaks such as the recent MTA payroll tax cut are huge help for small businesses.

“Small business is a dying breed,” Caruso said.  “Any help, no matter how small it is helps.”

Local businesses will be receiving a tax break after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new law this week that would eliminate a payroll tax that funded the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for some and reduce it for others.  The tax cut will save money for nearly 290,000 small businesses and more than 410,000 self-employed New York residents in the seven counties, including Westchester, where public transportation is provided by the MTA.

The tax will be eliminated for small businesses, which are defined as businesses with an annual payroll between $10,000 and $1.25 million by the governor’s official website .  The elimination of the tax affects just over 25,000 businesses in Westchester County.  Businesses with payrolls between $1.25 and $1.75 million will have their payroll taxes cut by either one third or two thirds according to the governor’s website.

Many local business owners say they still don’t know why exactly they were being taxed for a service they don’t use.

“It just seemed like an arbitrary thing for Westchester people who don’t commute,” said Fonda Lifrak, who owns Suburban Renewal in Hastings.  “I walk to work.”

Rob Bennie, the manager at Reader’s Hardware in Dobbs Ferry, said the tax was something businesses were forced to pay whether it made sense to them or not.

“We’re glad that they’ve done away with it, we’ve heard from many people complaining about it,” Bennie said.  “We don’t think we should have been doing this from the start.  It was a good sum of money.”

All public and private elementary and secondary schools are exempt from the payroll tax under the new law as well.  Under the old law schools had to pay the tax upfront before being reimbursed for it.

“It was a pretty good chunk of change,” said Hastings superintendent Timothy Connors.  “It’s really a cash flow thing, so we have to put a line item [in the budget] that we pay out for a full year about $80,000 a year.”

Connors said that even though the school district was eventually reimbursed for the money, it still was something that officials needed to plan around.

“It appears as a line item so clearly people know and then they ask the question why and we have to tell them we get reimbursed, but nonetheless it’s something that impacts the budget,”

The governor’s website said the new law will have no impact on MTA funding as the state will compensate it for any revenue lost due to the tax cut.

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