By Camille Rivera, Executive Director UnitedNY
Four hundred thirty-six thousand dollars. That’s what JP Morgan Chase CEO and multi-millionaire Jamie Dimon, and others like him stand to receive when New York State’s millionaire’s tax expires on December 31. You read that correctly – a man who already makes over $20 million in compensation per year is getting a tax refund of nearly $500,000.
To the 99 percent of the population who do not earn millions or billions of dollars each year, four hundred thirty six thousand dollars sounds like a lot of money. And it is. Especially to 700 of New York’s lowest paid workers – public school aides – who just lost their jobs.
Consider this – the average school aide in New York City earns around $13,000 per year. Add in benefits and taxes, and that puts the cost to the City of each aide at around $17,550. But due to the continued strain the financial crisis placed on the city and state, these hardworking New Yorkers received their marching orders earlier this month. Just to recap, while millionaires are set to receive a massive windfall, and hundreds of our lowest paid workers losing their jobs. This begs the question: what does New York really get for its money? For starters, New York gets 25 more people added to its unemployment rolls. These are people with families, and bills, and communities that will lose out on reinvestment, simply so people like Jamie Dimon can get a tax break. These are families, whose children will miss out on valuable instruction, simply so people like Jamie Dimon, who already make millions of dollars per year, can get a tax refund.
That’s right. A tax break for one millionaire equals jobs for twenty-five New Yorkers. It is amazing that conservatives spend so much time complaining about tax increases, while they are perfectly content to give tax refunds to people who don’t need them, which means that those who can barely afford to make ends meet will have to shoulder an even larger share of the country’s financial burden. The recession may be over on Wall Street, but the rest of us know that the tough times are far from over on Main Street.
Some opponents of the tax – like Governor Cuomo – who want to let it expire at the end of this year will claim that millionaires and billionaires will flee New York if the tax stays in place. But we know that’s not true. Study after study has already disproved this myth. It’s yesterday’s news.
But what’s fact is how far these funds can go to improving the lives of the people who don’t earn millions of dollars a year, while also providing a jump start to the struggling economy. Jamie Dimon isn’t going to create any more jobs at JP Morgan Chase with his $436,000, but twenty-five school aides would put their earnings directly back into the economy through the stores and local businesses they use every day. The same businesses that DO base their hiring decisions each year on the state of the local economy, and how much their customers are spending.
And it extends beyond public services and local businesses. The $436,000 that Jamie Dimon and millionaires like him across the state stand to receive can instead be pumped directly into the economy through shovel ready construction and infrastructure projects. This creates jobs, gives an extra boost to the communities and neighborhoods where the projects are occurring, and helps maintain and improve the quality of life in our city and state for the long term. It’d be a tragedy for New York to forego these investments out of an unfounded fear that a few incredibly wealthy individuals may move elsewhere.
We are not talking about a new tax. We’re talking about stopping a massive tax break for the uber-wealthy. We’re talking about taking $5 billion dollars and rather than putting it back into the pockets of those who already have millions and billions, injecting it directly into New York’s economy by creating jobs, strengthening our infrastructure, and supplying vital services. New York State – like most of the country – needs jobs, not additional budget cuts.
Instead of giving more money to people who have fared well during the recession, the $5 billion would be better used creating jobs for people who so desperately need them. It’s a no brainer.