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Please tax me! N.Y. millionaires demand Cuomo and lawmakers raise their taxes

Dozens of New York-based millionaires are demanding their taxes be raised as Gov. Cuomo and the leaders of the state Senate and Assembly negotiate the budget, which is due April 1.

The calls come at a time when the state is reeling from the economic toll of the pandemic and as Cuomo faces burgeoning legal woes.

The most recent rally for new taxes on the rich came in the form of a letter sent Thursday to Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

People participate in a "March on Billionaires" event in New York City.
People participate in a “March on Billionaires” event in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

In it, 51 millionaires urge the powerful Albany pols to “end the unfair tax breaks that we enjoy” and adopt the Invest in Our New York Act, a package of six bills that seek to raise taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations.

“Take it from us: a few extra bucks in taxes every year will have zero impact on the day-to-day life of people with bank accounts like ours,” they wrote. “But added together, the few bucks raised from each ultra-wealthy New Yorker have the power to transform our state for the better. As the very people you are afraid of taxing, let us dispel your concerns: we’re all in.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Hans Pennink/AP)

The swimming-in-cash letter writers include Abigail Disney, the great-niece of Walt Disney; Morris Pearl, the former managing director of BlackRock; and the descendants of two presidents, Ariane van Buren and Polly Cleveland.

Cuomo spokesman Freeman Klopott responded that the authors of the missive should feel free to give now — but don’t need to be bound by a new tax to do so.

“The state has a mechanism whereby the wealthy may voluntarily contribute to the state to support education and health care and they even receive a federal tax deduction — the signatories of the letter can make a contribution immediately,” he said.

Cuomo now finds himself mired in two serious scandals — one over his handling of nursing homes during the pandemic and efforts to cover up the death toll there and another stemming from sexual harassment allegations made by three women, two of whom are former staffers.

Abigail Disney
Abigail Disney (Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Refinery29)

All of this will presumably give Stewart-Cousins and Heastie some leverage during budget negotiations. And both support raising taxes on the wealthy.

“Stewart-Cousins’ spokesman, Michael Murphy, said Thursday it’s up to the state to demand millionaires “who have gotten even richer during the pandemic” help the state restore its economy.

“We have been very clear that we should not balance our budget on the backs of working and middle-class families,” he said.

Heastie’s spokesman, Michael Whyland, echoed that sentiment, saying that “the needs are significant, so nothing is off the table.”

“We are reviewing the budget with our members and we will release our Assembly proposal in the near future,” he said.

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