taxes

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Filing taxes is routine for most Americans, but for a group of SUNY Oswego students it's a crucial part of their education. Each year, seniors and graduate students in the college's honor society for accounting and finance majors prepare free tax returns for mostly lower-income residents. 

John Runge is a graduate accounting student and coordinator with the college's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA). He recently helped file returns for people at the Hamilton Homes complex in Oswego, an affordable housing community.

Jim Bowen / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s acting tax commissioner took heat Tuesday from Democrats and Republicans in the state Legislature over delays in the STAR rebate program. The hearing was interrupted by protesters who want higher taxes on millionaires.

Lawmakers changed the rules of the STAR school property tax rebates so that new homeowners would get their rebates by the end of September to use them toward their tax bills. That was September 2016. Five months later, some senators and Assembly members say they are hearing from constituents who still have not received their money.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

The leader of the Senate Republicans said he’s not happy with what he said is over $800 million in new taxes and fees tucked away in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new state budget.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said he’s upset over about new proposed fees that a preliminary analysis shows total $803 million – with $250 million in new Department of Motor Vehicles fees alone.

Flanagan said he’s also not happy with the way Cuomo presented his spending plan to lawmakers. He said Cuomo failed to mention all of the new fees in a private briefing at the executive mansion.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Some state lawmakers are rejecting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to extend a tax on millionaires. Cuomo spent Tuesday rolling out his spending plan to individual groups of lawmakers in private briefings, then at night, released details to the public.

Maxwell School at Syracuse University

For many voters, one of the most eagerly anticipated changes from the new Trump administration is a significant tax cut.  What are the contours of the likely cuts, and how will they will affect the politics of other significant social policies, like Medicare and Social Security?  Could the cuts stimulate enough economic growth to pay for themselves?  This week on the Campbell Conversations host Grant Reeher is joined by a leading expert on tax policy, Len Burman, the director of the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban and Brookings Institutes.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The era of Howard Johnson’s Restaurants and Motor Lodges is long gone. But a vestige of the one of the largest hospitality chains in the country remained for years in central New York, on Carrier Circle in DeWitt. Now, after years of negotiation, a deal has been struck that allows access to the property, so the iconic orange roof has finally come down.

Julia Botero / WRVO News File Photo

Jefferson County lawmakers have voted not to grant tax breaks for big solar and wind projects. County leaders say large-scale alternative energy farms do not provide the county with enough incentives to justify a tax deal.

Legislature Chairman Scott Gray said wind developers are approaching towns in Jefferson County not expecting to pay their full share of taxes. 

“You’re asking the property tax payers of this community to subsidize a project. So we want to make sure there is something in return for those taxpayers’ investments."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse has struck a deal with Syracuse University to provide $7 million in revenue over the next five years. It extends an earlier service agreement that would have expired later this year.

One of the issues that impacts a cash-strapped city like Syracuse, is the amount of tax-exempt property within city limits -- things like churches, universities and land owned by other governmental entities.

In tax season, watch out for scams

Mar 16, 2016
WBFO News File Photo

Across the nation, it’s tax season - time to take a look at W-2s, bank statements, and all the other aspects of your financial life. It’s also a time when trustworthiness is especially important.

New York Western District U.S. Attorney William Hochul, Jr. said one of the best defenses against problems at tax time is going to a legitimate tax preparer. He said citizens should be able to trust such professionals, but should also be on the lookout for a particular warning sign.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Senate Republicans say their version of the state budget will include a 9-year phase in of tax cuts that would eventually total a 25 percent reduction for middle class taxpayers.

GOP Leader John Flanagan said when the Senate majority releases it’s budget plan later in March, it will include a phase in of over $4 billion in tax cuts. They include an extension of a temporary tax cut for middle income earners, which would gradually be reduced to a rate of just over 5 percent for those who make $300,000 a year or less.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

An upstate business group is seeking tax cuts for small businesses in the new year, and are opposing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to phase in a minimum wage hike to $15 an hour.

Unshackle Upstate’s Greg Biryla says while portions of  the economy have improved somewhat, including the Albany and Buffalo regions, wide swaths of the Southern Tier, North Country, and Mohawk Valley continue to stagnate, and have lost jobs.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse Common Councilors have unanimously approved Mayor Stephanie Miner’s $674 million budget, with a few minor changes. Lawmakers added some cash to deal with some perennial problems.

The extra spending amounts to less than $1 million, and covers more water and sewer maintenance and repair, and demolition of hazardous buildings.  

Michael / via Flickr

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s administration’s plan to add extra charges on some homeowner’s tax bills for ornamental streetlights in the city of Syracuse has been put on hold.

The idea for these charges is to let people who in what's called "special lighting districts" to cover more of the $1.9 million bill National Grid sends every year to the city. Presently, Syracuse collects $220,000 from homeowners in the special lighting districts, and the rest comes out of the general fund.

Ken Teegardin / Flickr

Sen. Charles Schumer used this year's tax deadline to call for more help for the victims of tax refund fraud, which he said is the most common form of identity fraud.

The New York Democrat told reporters Wednesday that he is pushing legislation that would create a new resource at the Internal Revenue Service for the victims of refund fraud, which he says affected 70,000 New Yorkers and 2.3 million Americans last year.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO file photo

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has released what she calls a good, strong budget to the Common Council. The spending plan shows a city that’s emerging from years of fiscal uncertainty. 

The $674 million spending plan won’t raise taxes or water or sewer rates. There are no layoffs of city employees; and there’s increased revenue from building permits, parking garages and meters. There is still a $9 million deficit. But that pales in comparison to the numbers the mayor was throwing around a few years ago, when she suggested the city could go broke. 

Taxed-Off!

Mar 31, 2015

This week on Public Radio Presents, an in-depth look at the American tax system in "Taxed-Off!"

Audrey Quinn, an investigative journalist, gathers elected officials, tax experts, and individual citizens to explore the grand experiment that is the U.S. tax system. You'll hear from governors of three states who have made the leap and changed their tax code, and explore other possible changes to the system. Plus, how state and federal income taxes affect American families, and how state taxes get used to woo new residents. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

Calling it the major problem facing the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a plan to reduce New York’s highest in the nation rate of property taxes for some homeowners, but the program was not received with open arms by everyone.

Under Cuomo’s proposal, homeowners who pay six percent or more of their annual paychecks in taxes will get a credit on their tax bills. Renters will also receive an equivalent credit.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

One of the new laws going into effect in New York this year is targeted to employ more out of work veterans.

New York state now has a tax rebate program for companies that hire an unemployed veteran. It’s worth five percent of the vet’s salary – or 15 percent if the veteran has a service-related disability.

George F / via Flickr

Syracuse lawmakers agreed to a pilot program Monday that will ease the tax burden for developers renovating the historic Hotel Syracuse.

City Deputy Commissioner for Development Ben Walsh says this is a big step in moving the project forward.

“The project is complicated, and frankly, as expensive as this, it needs as much certainty and predictability as possible," Walsh said. "And that’s what the pilot provides. It provides a certain payment for a period of time when the hotel is most vulnerable in it’s initial years of operation.”

via New York State Tax Department

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance is back at the New York State Fair this year. They had a very positive experience last year signing homeowners up for the STAR tax credit.

This year, Department Commissioner Tom Mattox says they’re taking it one step further by providing private assistance to resolve tax issues on the spot.

“Yesterday alone, we worked with a couple dozen taxpayers to resolve issues in real time," Mattox said. "Everything from eligibility for certain veterans exemptions to certain sales tax collection related issues."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO file photo

Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive, faces a steep challenge. He’s 30 points behind the well-known incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the polls, and has only a fraction of Cuomo’s record $33 million campaign war chest.  

Astorino is a Republican in a state where Democrats now dominate and independents, not registered in either major party, are gaining ground. But the 47-year-old married father of three says he’s used to being a long shot.

East Syracuse voting on future of police department

Apr 16, 2014

The village of East Syracuse is deciding this evening whether it can afford to continue staffing a fulltime police force.

In October 2012, residents of the village voted down the idea of dissolving its police force and merging it with that of neighboring DeWitt. But since that vote, taxes for residents have shot up 22 percent and the town board again approved the measure this spring.

For Janini Puliatti, having more eyes watching over the village is worth the expense.

Photo courtesy of PWC

The chairman of the worldwide accounting firm PWC, formerly called Pricewaterhouse Coopers, has roots right here in central New York. Bob Moritz is a graduate of SUNY Oswego and visited the campus last week to speak about the global economy. WRVO's Catherine Loper spoke with Moritz about how those trends apply to the economic situation in upstate New York.

Wallyg / Flickr

The next several days will be crucial ones in Albany for negotiations on the state budget. Tensions ran high at a closed-door meeting between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders.

Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos abruptly left the final leaders meeting before the weekend early, complaining there was too much emphasis on the needs of the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, at the expense of the rest of the state.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

For the fourth straight year, the Utica City School District is facing a deficit, causing the school board to consider layoffs. School Business Official Maureen Albanese says right now the district, which is among the state's poorest, is having trouble balancing its nearly $146 million budget.

"We had a $3.8 million deficit in the general fund, and we're looking at a $2.6 [million] deficit in our federal grants, which brought our total budget deficit to $6.4 million," Albanese said.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants to double the tax write-off for child care expenses, saying it will benefit working mothers and families.

Right now 35 percent of a child’s daycare – or up to about $1,000 – can be written off on annual tax filings. Gillibrand’s bill would raise that to half of the expenses, or $3,000. She says making child care more affordable will allow more parents to work full time and bring home more money.

James F Clay / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems to have gained the upper hand and some new allies in his policy skirmish with New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio over how to fund pre-kindergarten, as the fight threatens to turn into an upstate downstate split.

DeBlasio has been seeking permission from Cuomo and the legislature to raise income taxes on the wealthy in New York City in order to pay for access to pre-kindergarten for almost 75,000 four-year-olds there, arguing that it would help ease income inequality.

A new poll finds that New Yorkers statewide favor Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to fund pre-kindergarten over New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio’s proposal.

The Quinnipiac poll finds that the majority of New Yorkers prefer Cuomo’s plan to finance expanded pre-K through state funds, than favor deBlasio’s proposal to tax the wealthy to get the money.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Local union activists and community organizers are hoping to send a message to state lawmakers about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget: they don’t like it. And they suggest it will increase the income gap between the rich and the poor.

On a snowy day in Syracuse, union activities and community organizers gathered to rally at the state office building in Syracuse against the governor's budget plan

knittymarie/flickr

Hundreds of school children, parents and union members held a rally and sit-in at the state Capitol to build momentum for more spending on schools in the state budget.

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