UPDATE: We're in the news! Read the PNS article here, and another article below.
51 wealthy New Yorkers signed this open letter to NYS leaders in March 2021, advocating higher taxes on millionaires and billionaires in the state to help meet critical budget needs. Signers included members of Responsible Wealth, Patriotic Millionaires, Resource Generation, Solidaire and others. The letter was covered in a New York Daily News article posted on March 4 and printed March 5. If you would like to sign this or a future letter, contact Mike Lapham at [email protected].
For over 20 years, United for a Fair Economy's Responsible Wealth project has been organizing upper-income individuals to use their unique voice to support a variety of groups working on economic, racial, and social justice issues. If you'd like to learn more or join (membership is always open), please contact the Responsible Wealth project director, Mike Lapham, at [email protected]
Tax Us: An Open Letter to Governor Cuomo and the NYS Legislature
Dear Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie,
New York is in a state of emergency — and we want to help.
As millionaires and multi-millionaires whose bank accounts have only grown since COVID-19 hit, we have watched in helpless horror as millions of our neighbors lost their jobs, health insurance, and access to essential social services. We want to do our part: not only to fill the 4-year, $63 billion budget gap the pandemic created, but to reverse decades of economic inequality and transform our state into one that works for everyone.
Do not be fooled by the lie that we will flee when asked to give back to our state. Since 2009, when New York State last increased taxes on the wealthy, the number of millionaires who call this great state home has risen by over 60%. Study after study confirms that the wealthy do not leave when taxes are increased slightly. In fact, millionaires like us are the least likely to move in the face of a tax increase — which is no surprise, given that such increases improve the overall economic health of the entire state.
Take if 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. 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. It’s time to Invest in Our New York.
That’s why we write to urge you to end the unfair tax breaks that we enjoy, and to use the revenue raised to navigate out of this crisis. Specifically, we are asking you to support the Invest in Our New York Act, a package of six bills that will raise over $50 billion in new revenue:
- Progressive Income Tax — raises $12-$18 billion
- Capital Gains Tax — raises $7 billion
- Heirs’ Tax — raises $8 billion
- Billionaire Tax — raises over $23 billion
- Corporate Tax — raises $12-$29 billion
- Wall Street Tax — raises $9 billion
This is revenue that New York needs right now. Millions of New Yorkers are out of work and relying on emergency food, shelter, and services to survive — but the public funding for service providers is drying up. Over 1.4 million New Yorkers are on the brink of eviction — and without new revenue, New York will soon face a historic housing crisis. The virus itself took 45,000 of our neighbors — but thousands of those deaths could have been prevented, if only New York had fully funded nursing homes and public housing, guaranteed healthcare for all, and secured PPE for every essential worker. Across the board, Black, brown, and immigrant New Yorkers continue to bear the brunt of all this pain.
None of this is new — but COVID-19 supercharged the inequality that already defined our state. We know one-time federal aid — whether it be $6 billion or $15 billion — will not come close to undoing years of chronic disinvestment from the public good. It’s a good thing, then, that we have the funds sitting in our bank accounts to even the playing field — if only you will muster the political will to tap into them.
We don’t just support the Invest in Our New York package because this is a moral emergency. We need to pass this package because it is the only fiscally smart way forward. New York’s sales tax revenues — a crucial source of funding for schools, hospitals, and so much more — continue to plummet as unemployment remains sky-high. This is not a coincidence. When working people do not have money in their pocket to spend, every single New Yorker feels the ripple effect. Small businesses lose customers, supply chains falter, and our entire economy grinds to a halt. The result? In addition to forcing millions of regular, working New Yorkers to shoulder the budget deficit, your continued refusal to end tax cuts for the rich prevents our entire state from getting back on two feet.
Stanley Greenberg, New York City
Morris Pearl, New York City
Barbara Pearl, New York City
Abigail Disney, Manhattan
Anne Delaney, Manhattan
Neely Doshi Cather, New York City
James Simon, Manhattan
Seth Perlman, Manhattan
Michael Schmale, New York City
Amy Rosenthal, Brooklyn
David Mele, New York City
Sarah Mele, New York City
Kathy Mele, New York City
Arden Down, New York City
Tom Lapham, Cambridge
Ariane van Buren, Manhattan
Harley Brown, Brooklyn
Catherine Gund, Manhattan
Gerald E. & Gloria E. Scorse, Manhattan
Lola Lloyd Horwitz, Brooklyn
Helen Engelhart, Brooklyn
Jacqueline & Jim Mann, Mt. Kisco
Elspeth Gilmore, Brooklyn
Daniel A. Simon, New York City
Polly Cleveland & Tom Haines, Manhattan
Martin Rothenberg, Jamesville
Alexandra Chasin, Brooklyn
Dal Lamagna, Manhattan
Rachel Sherman, Brooklyn
Doyle Warren and Nicky Grist, Brooklyn
Michael Loeb & Ann Ross Loeb, Manhattan
Elizabeth Gilmore, New York City
Karen Pittelman, Brooklyn
Heather White, Bronx
Amy Wagner, Manhattan
Emily Weinrebe, Brooklyn
Sam Jacobs, Brooklyn
Marissa Finn Hersh & Ryan Hersh, New York City
Mary Wang, Manhattan
Caroline David, New York City
Rachel Isreeli, Brooklyn
Deborah Sagner, NYC
Susan Bardfield, New York City
Mark Reed, Manhattan
Eileen Farbman, New York City
Kathleen Chalfant, Brooklyn
Jess & Justin Conway, Beacon