New York is attempting to attract private investment to its local universities by making them tax free communities. In an event held last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo launched the initiative which is meant to draw new business ventures to upstate New York. Businesses will the opportunity to operate completely tax-free – including no income tax for employees, no sales, property or business tax – while also partnering with the higher education institutions in the SUNY system.
Under the terms of the program, ll SUNY campuses outside of New York City and designated private colleges north of Westchester will be tax free (no sales, property, or business/corporate taxes). Up to 200,000 square feet surrounding the campus will included in the tax-free community.
Employees of businesses that open in Tax-Free NY communities will also be exempt from paying income taxes. Offering no income taxes for employees of these companies is significant as New Yorkers pay one of the highest tax rates in the nation. 100% of New Yorkers live within a 30 mile radius of a SUNY campus, and thus, income tax free zone.
Eligible businesses include companies with a relationship to the academic mission of the university and companies creating new jobs, including new businesses, out-of-state businesses that relocate to New York and existing businesses that expand their New York operations while maintaining their existing jobs.
Yesterday afternoon, the Governor released several statements of support from local government and university officials. The program is part of the Governor’s broader plan to rehabilitate New York’s reputation as a high tax state. The initiative has also gained some cautious support from the local business community. Similar partnership initiatives are already under way in the SUNY schools in an effort to attract more private sector companies upstate.