Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine had teamed up with Brookhaven Town Councilman Dan Panico to introduce legislation at both the town and county levels to reclaim MTA payments.
The controversial MTA payroll tax, which was declared unconstitutional by a State Supreme Court Justice in August, was placed on employers and self-employed residents in the New York metropolitan area, starting in 2009, to bridge the MTA funding gap.
The tax, Romaine said, has cost Suffolk County residents $3 million per year and Brookhaven Town taxpayers nearly $1 million.
A three-year statute of limitations exists in New York State to file an amneded tax return; therefore, the county and town have until Nov. 2 to formally claim a refund for monies paid in 2009. To that end, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance is developing a process for employers to file a claim for a refund.
“This job-killing, unfair and onerous tax should have never been implemented,” Romaine said. "I applaud the State Supreme Court for confirming what we have said for years: this tax is illegal. It has cost county taxpayers more than $10 million since its inception. In these tough economic times, it’s money we simply do not have.”
Adding "insult to injury," Romaine said, is a lack of service provided to areas of Suffolk County. Last weekend, he said, marked the end of MTA weekend train service from Ronkonkoma to Greenport, "right at the height of the fall harvest season on the East End. The MTA provides no services, but our municipalities and small businesses were still required to fund it.”
Panico agreed: "The Court has spoken and this much maligned tax had been declared unconstitutional. Now we are asking for the prompt return of all monies paid by Brookhaven Town residents to be returned in an expeditious manner."
The county legislation was formally introduced Tuesday and, if approved by committee, will be eligible for a vote of the full Suffolk County legislature on Nov. 20.