New York Mayor Bill de Blasio proposes ‘millionaires tax’ to fund subway fix
The first-ever "millionaires' tax" in MTA history would fund capital improvements and fair fares only, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday. (YouTube/NYC Mayor's Office)

When it comes to fixing the city’s aged subway system, Mayor Bill de Blasio is looking to the wealthiest residents to chip in for the greater good of all New Yorkers.

 

“It’s time for fairness when it comes to supporting the MTA. That is why today I am calling on Albany to pass a millionaires' tax to support the MTA,” the mayor said at a news conference at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Monday, the day after he first announced the plan. “This would be the first millionaires' tax in MTA history – and it’s about time.”

 

Continuing the back-and-forth between City Hall and Albany, the latter of which has overseen the beleaguered MTA since 1981, de Blasio again called on the state to take “fuller responsibility” for the agency in crisis.

 

Over the past several months, straphangers have faced countless delays and service problems, from being stranded underground to derailments and fires, all of which caused systemwide havoc.

 

Calling it a “human crisis” as well as a subway crisis, de Blasio said the millionaires' tax would call on “New Yorkers who typically travel in first class to pay their fair share so the rest of us can get around, so the rest of us can get to work, so the rest of us can live our lives in this city.”

 

If the legislation is approved, the “modest increase” in state income tax would affect New Yorkers who make $500,000 or more annually. “That means fewer than 1 percent of New York City taxpayers,” de Blasio said, adding, “For an individual making $1 million, that individual will pay about $2,700 more in taxes, about $7 a day.”

The mayor said the bill, which he expects to raise $700,000 million annually, would exclusively be dedicated to the MTA.

“There are only two proper uses for this money – it cannot be diverted,” de Blasio said.

While the bulk of funds would go toward system improvements, $250,000 million per year would go to fair fares for those straphangers who need them. “That means half-price MetroCards for 800,000 New Yorkers who are at or below the poverty line,” de Blasio said. “It’s time for a millionaires' tax. It’s time for some basic fairness, and that’s what we aim to achieve."

John Raskin, executive director of Riders Alliance, praised the proposed tax.  

"A millionaires' tax would require some New Yorkers to pay, but the status quo requires literally millions of New Yorkers to pay in the form of lost wages, missed work and days ruined by breakdowns and delays," Raskin said in a statement. "It's fair to ask the New Yorkers who benefit the most from our city's prosperity to pay a little more to repair the infrastructure that the entire economy relies on." 

Watch the mayor's news conference on the proposed millionaires' tax below: