Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a new program today — Tax-Free NY — which will allow businesses to operate tax free on State University of New York campuses outside New York City and designated private universities north of Westchester County. That means no income tax for employees and no sales, property or business taxes for 10 years.
The governor said Tax-Free NY will attract start-ups, venture capital, new business and investments from across the world to upstate New York, where SUNY has 64 campuses. It will replicate the economic success of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, which partnered with the University at Albany and the state. It has become a preeminent college for nanoscale technology and has attracted billions of dollars in private-sector investment.
“Tax-Free NY will supercharge our efforts to grow our economy by transforming localities in Upstate New York into virtual tax-free communities for new businesses and new jobs,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Under Tax-Free NY, communities across Upstate will become a magnet for new businesses, new startups, new venture capital, and new jobs, taking our economic development and job creating efforts to a level never seen before.”
Democratic and GOP leaders in the Senate and Assembly said they support the initiative, as does SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher.
‘These zones hold the potential to provide jobs and upward mobility to thousands of unemployed and underemployed New Yorkers while building a brighter economic future for communities across our state,” Senate Majority Coalition Co-Leader Jeffrey Klein, D-Bronx, said in a statement.
“Our colleges, universities and community colleges are New York’s greatest competitive advantage and should be the engines that drive our job-creation efforts,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said. “Through the Tax Free New York Program, we will transform vacant campus space and land into new jobs and all of the related opportunities that spring up around areas of economic activity.”
Some other features of Tax-Free NY:
— Up to 200,000 square feet surrounding a SUNY campus will be included in the tax-free community.
— Employees of businesses in the tax-free zones will be exempt from paying income taxes.
— 3 million square feet of commercial space will be available at private universities and 20 strategic state assets will also be designated tax-free.
— 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 state operations while maintaining existing jobs.