Westchester Lawmakers React To MTA Tax Ruling

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From left: State Sen. Greg Ball, State Senate Candidate Bob Cohen, County Executive Rob Astorino and Assembly member Bob Castelli celebrated the ruling about the MTA payroll tax outside the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. Photo Credit: Brian Marschhauser
State Sen. Greg Ball (R, C - Patterson) speaks Thursday morning in Yorktown about the ruling that the MTA's payroll tax is unconstitutional. Photo Credit: Brian Marschhauser
Westchester lawmakers gathered Thursday morning in Yorktown. Photo Credit: Brian Marschhauser

YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and other local leaders gathered in Yorktown on Thursday morning to celebrate a ruling by the state Supreme Court that the MTA payroll tax is unconstitutional.

“Since the inception of this tax, we spent almost $5 million out of our budget for this unconstitutional, unfunded mandate,” Astorino said outside the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce. “Yesterday we had our day in court, and they ruled that this tax was wrongly instituted.”

A judge ruled the tax, which imposes a 34-cent tariff on every $100 that employers pay towards salaries, is unconstitutional, partly because it is paid by only 12 counties in the state. The tax, instituted in 2009, is paid by employers located within the downstate area served by the MTA.

Astorino called the ruling a “dual-edged sword” because he realizes that the MTA does need proper funding to run its buses, subways and commuter railroads, which many Westchester residents use to get into New York City.

“The state needs to look at the proper funding, whatever that might be for the MTA, so people can get into the city at a reasonable rate.”

Astorino was joined at Thursday’s press conference by State Sen. Greg Ball (R, C – Patterson), Assembly member Robert Castelli (R, C – Goldens Bridge), State Senate Candidate Bob Cohen (R – New Rochelle), County Legislator John Testa (R – Peekskill), and local politicians from Yorktown.

“A few years back, we didn’t know whether we would kill this tax. But we stood together as a team to really build a real grassroots effort from Long Island all the way up throughout the Hudson Valley,” said State Sen. Greg Ball (R, C – Patterson).

Astorino said he fully expects the MTA to appeal Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling but is confident the decision will be upheld. He also expects to gain more clarity soon about whether or not the money already paid for the tax will be returned to the counties.

“They’re going to have to make a determination whether or not there will be a retroactive refund, since this was potentially null and void from the beginning,” Astorino said. “That’s to be seen. “

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