Is New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, a modern day Robin Hood? He’s technically not robbing the rich, to give to the poor, but that’s kind of the idea here. Essentially, de Blasio is proposing a tax on the richest citizens, in order to raise capital to improve the city’s deteriorating subway system. Some are saying that this is ingenious, but I suspect many others aren’t on board. Why? Well, like I said, it’s a bit of a modern day Robin Hood type scenario. The richest people in society are going to give money to pay for a service that is used by the not so wealthy. I’m not trying to generalize here, but I suspect that most people with money in New York City, do not take the subway.
That being said, is this something that could work? In today’s day, we are constantly being taxed. Or at least where I live. But what is interesting is that we aren’t always taxes based on usage. What do I mean? In the city where I live, I pay property taxes to the city. The city decides where that money goes. It could go to road repairs, transit systems, or recreation facilities and programs. As a citizen, I don’t have much say in that. The city makes decisions about where those dollars will be spent. If there is a program in a poorer neighbourhood, that is needed, it’s possible that my tax dollars in some way are going to that program. But I myself, am not a recipient of that program. Do you see where I’m going with this? It’s not a pay for service type system. And it shouldn’t be.
The idea with taxes is that you pay incrementally more as you earn more money. Which, in a way, is what de Blasio is proposing. New York City is home to 82 billionaires. Yes, that’s with a “b”, and according to the Times, the tax would barely dent their annual gross income. The plan requires approval by the state legislature and by the Governor Andrew Cuomo. But what it does is, it calls for raising the city’s highest income tax rate by about half a percentage point. This would be applicable to married couples with incomes above $1 million, and would increase to 4.4%. Individuals who earn more than $500,000 would also be included. In total the tax would be paid by about 32,000 residents, or fewer than 1% of those people who file their taxes in the city.
So what will this do? The new tax is estimated that it would raise somewhere between $700 and $800 million annually. The city needs about $500 million for capital costs, and they are hoping for about $250 million for a program to reduce the cost of a subway pass for low income riders. The subway system is 113 years old and carries approximately 2.7 billion people across the city annually.
In my opinion, the idea is great. According to many New Yorkers, the subway system is constantly delayed, there are often derailments, the stations are over crowded and overall it’s a nightmare to ride. But is this the answer? Will de Blasio get support by the Governor and the legislature? And if not, is there a plan b? The reason I like this is because I think it solves a couple of problems. You will see many people who claim that this is a socialist type set-up, but overall, its going to make for a better city.
If you can’t get to work because the subway isn’t running, how are you going to get paid? Even worse, you might end up loosing your job. Yes, there are a lot of millionaires, and even billionaires that live in the city. But more than that, there are working class citizens who need reliable transportation. It shouldn’t be an “either or” type situation. I hope that de Blasio get’s this bill passed, and I hope that they use subsequent capital to fund much needed programs and services throughout the city.