Archives of Rudolph W. Giuliani
October 20, 1997

New York City Is Reducing The Tax Burden And Investing In Jobs For Our Future
by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani

Every time you turn around it seems New York City is receiving more good news. Just last Thursday, Inc. magazine proclaimed that New York City has more fast-growing companies than any other city in the nation, and last month U.S. News & World Report renamed us "Comeback City."

They have good reason to believe New York City is back. Since 1993, we've created 170,000 new private sector jobs -- that's the highest annual percentage increase in the city's history. Contrast that to the period between 1990 and 1993 when we lost 320,000 jobs. We've also substantially reduced the unemployment rate from a record high of 11.6% in 1992 to the current level of 9.5%. One of the keys to the city's economic revitalization is that we have reduced the tax burden for New Yorkers.

We have eliminated the commercial rent tax in all four boroughs outside of Manhattan, and in Manhattan we have eliminated the commercial rent tax south of Chambers Street and North of 96th Street. In the area in Manhattan where the commercial rent tax still applies, it has been reduced. Because of the reduction, $300 million will be returned to the private sector, money which will allow businesses to expand, hire new employees, and which will continue to foster growth in our economy.

At the same time, we have reduced the unincorporated business tax, another tax that was particularly unfair to small businesses. This year we will return almost $100 million to small business through our unincorporated business tax reform. Because of the success we have had in reducing the UBT, our goal for the next four years is to eliminate the tax entirely.

By reducing our hotel occupancy tax from the highest in the nation, we've helped generate record hotel occupancy rates -- now they are second in the nation only to Waikiki, Hawaii. As a result, for the past two years, our tourism rates have been at record levels. In the year before the hotel occupancy tax was cut, the city received $127 million in hotel revenue. This year, the city is projected to receive $172 million in tax revenue, clearly showing how a reduction of this tax has been good for the city as well as good for business.

Like the hotel occupancy tax, the sales tax of 8.25% discourages many shoppers from making purchases in New York City. The city loses about $3.5 billion each year in economic activity to surrounding areas, largely due to our sales tax. The sales tax is also a regressive tax because our city's poorer residents spend far more on clothing purchases as a percentage of their total income.

In order to help eliminate the sales tax, my administration advocated for two one- week sales tax "vacations". In one week in January, the sales tax was eliminated for clothing purchases under $500, and for one week in September it was eliminated for clothing purchases under $100. Each of those weeks generated unprecedented levels of economic activity in the city, again showing that the elimination of a tax is often more successful in expanding the economy than the imposition of a tax.

Because of the success we had during our two "sales tax vacation weeks", we were able to lobby Albany to permanently eliminate the sales tax for clothing purchases of $100 or less, excluding footwear, starting in December of 1999. But this is not enough. The goal is to obtain an elimination of the sales tax on clothing purchases of $500 or less, including footwear, because I think that doing so would be good for business and for our residents and it would produce more jobs. The sales tax is a regressive tax because people with less income spend a greater percentage on clothing purchases.

While we have done much to improve the economy, there is still much that needs to be done to relieve businesses and families from tax burdens. Last week, I announced that New York City will advocate in Albany for more targeted tax relief for small business by providing a personal income tax credit to the resident owners of small corporations. This reduction will continue to allow our small businesses to grow and develop, and will remove one more unfair obstacle that the city has imposed on small business and entrepreneurs.

I also proposed another tax reform that will stimulate job creation. The City will establish a Child and Dependent Care Credit that will provide relief to hardworking mothers and fathers who must pay for child care or dependent care while they work or look for work. Working taxpayers will be eligible for this credit if they have a child twelve years old or younger, or a dependent who is unable to care for himself or herself, and if they pay for someone to care for that child or dependent.

Over the past four years, New York City has demonstrated how easing the tax burden can actually fuel the creation of new businesses and jobs. We have reversed the old tax and spend policies of the past and as a result the economy has flourished. In the future, New York City will continue to build on our economic success while ensuring that no New Yorker is forced to shoulder an unfair tax burden.

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