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Mayor Bill de Blasio said he wants to tax the rich — he just isn’t sure what that means.
Hizzoner — who has called for boosting taxes on the rich for years — couldn’t provide specifics when pressed Thursday about what income levels would trigger the new levies he’d impose on New York’s wealthiest if he could.
“What I think, is for millionaires and billionaires, there should be higher taxes, particularly for billionaires,” de Blasio testified at a virtual joint legislative budget hearing on local governments while under questioning from state Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Suffolk County).
Gaughran quizzed de Blasio, asking, “One of the questions I have for you, in terms of if you are looking to the suggestion that we raise taxes on the wealthy. Could you further define that? Who do you define as wealthy and what tax rate should we raise, if it was up to you?”
“Couple of straightforward points — I think billionaires in particular is where I’d put a lot of the emphasis,” de Blasio said.
Gaughran then interjected, “You said billionaires, a billionaire — somebody who has a billion dollars or somebody that makes a billion dollars? Or are you looking at a certain — What would be the annual figure you would look at that you think somebody should make?”
De Blasio replied, “Senator, I want to be straightforward. When I can give you a very specific answer, I will.
“I don’t have my own independent tax suggestion for the state,” de Blasio admitted. “I just want to tell you directionally. But, I’d be happy to give you further detail.”
For years, de Blasio has called for hiking taxes on the wealthy, including to pay for his universal pre-kindergarten program in 2014 and to fund the MTA in 2017.
“I think, after the tax cuts occurred for the wealthy in the Trump administration, the first point is to — and that can only be done on the federal level, obviously — to roll back those tax cuts. I don’t see that happening in the short term,” de Blasio testified.
The mayor added, “I think what has to happen, therefore, is the state needs to take aggressive actions to realize that the tax cuts that happened were actually taking us in the wrong direction. The tax cuts for the wealthy were taking us in the wrong direction.”
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