Coalition to Albany: Reinstate Stock Transfer Tax on Wall Street

“The Stock Transfer Tax is one important measure to raise revenue vital to our survival
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© Benoît Prieur / Wikimedia Commons

A coalition of unions, state legislators and community groups came together in a virtual rally Nov. 10 to send a strong message to state legislators about the state’s Stock Transfer Tax: Keep the money!

Organized by United University Professions, the rally drew thousands of supporters from labor, health care and community organizations that called for the Legislature to return to Albany and approve a measure to reinstate the Stock Transfer Tax.

The tax, which is a sales tax on stock trades, is assessed, collected and rebated to the brokers who paid it. The tax has been levied on stock trades since 1905, but only since 1981 has the tax been fully rebated to Wall Street.

“The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc with the state’s finances and has widened a projected budget deficit upwards of $30 billion,” said UUP President Fred Kowal. “Massive cuts will be made to public education, health care and vital governmental services unless other revenue streams are found to bridge the budget gap. Reinstating the Stock Transfer Tax would go far in mitigating that impact.”

“The Stock Transfer Tax is one important measure to raise revenue vital to our survival, said Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, RN, president of the New York State Nurses Association. “During the pandemic, New York hospitals had grossly inadequate PPE for caregivers and insufficient life-saving equipment for patients. Nurse staffing was dangerously below what was needed for critical—and even basic—care. It is clear additional resources that are needed that cannot be provided without fundamental changes. New York billionaires made $77 billion during the last surge. This tax—just as another surge remains a very real threat—will save thousands of lives.”

Assembly Member Phil Steck, who has sponsored a bill with Sen. James Sanders Jr. to reinstate the tax, said the state would have raised between $12 billion and $19 billion in 2020 if the state kept the revenue from the tax.

“The Stock Transfer Tax is the most painless way to close the budget hole and restore faith in state government,” Steck said. “This is a sales tax of 1/4 of 1 percent that is in use all over the world (including London since 1700) and was in use from 1905 to 1981 in New York state. When adopted, it never caused one ounce of harm anywhere in the world, including New York.

“It will also solve a problem often highlighted by Governor Cuomo,” Steck said. “New York exports tax revenue to other states. Since this tax will mostly be paid by non-New Yorkers and foreign nationals, it will bring that lost revenue back to New York, just as New Yorkers pay excise taxes to oil-producing states.”

Sanders echoed Steck’s statement. "This one tax alone would cover most of the deficit, without hurting the wealthy,” he said. “This little tax would allow the rich to join the sacrifice that working people have been undergoing due to COVID-19."

Speakers at the virtual rally also included Sen. Robert Jackson, Assembly members Pamela Hunter and Ron Kim, Black Nurses Coalition Chief Executive Officer Brenda Robinson and SUNY Student Assembly President Bradley Hershenson.

Five state legislators—Assembly members Marianne Buttenschon, Jeffrey Dinowitz, Donna A. Lupardo and N. Nick Perry—also joined the rally.

Speakers commented on the necessity to rescind the Stock Transfer Tax:

Sen. Robert Jackson said, "It's time for our state to step up and address the needs of every family that lives here. People are crying out for help. Look at the long lines at our food banks. Millions more children have fallen into poverty and spend their days hungry. Look at the increasing COVID rates across our city and state. We need to strengthen our health care system, particularly our public hospitals, which serve everyone. Our unemployment numbers are still sky high and those families, particularly people of color in the service industry, need help now.

This is another example of why we must ask the wealthiest sectors of New York's economy to contribute to the needs of the people whose work, whose careers and whose lives are essential. That is why I'm glad to be here today with the heroic members of the state Nurses Association and United University Professions to turn this hope for a Stock Transfer Tax into reality."

Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz said, "For too long, the wealthiest among us have not been asked to pay for their fair share of our societal costs. We are seeing the deleterious impacts of this neglect in the form of mass transit systems that are on the verge of collapse, public housing that fails to maintain livable conditions, and much more. The Stock Transfer Tax would generate billions of dollars for these critical infrastructure investments while putting this cost on the shoulders of people who are most able to bear that burden. Thank you to Assembly Member Steck, State Sen. Sanders, UUP, NYSNA, and everyone who is supporting this effort to fund infrastructure by taxing the uber-rich in New York state."

Assembly Member Pamela Hunter said, “At a time when the stock market is rallying, we know that most New Yorkers are hesitant to give into that optimism. The pandemic has been a struggle for most and it will take years to fully recover. This small tax that is commonplace through much of the world would get our public services back on track and help our health care workers have the resources they need to get through any remaining case surges.”

Assembly Member Ron Kim said, "In the milieu of the worst economic distress this country has seen since the Great Depression, and with many essential social services in critical danger of severe budget cuts, we must not allow our state to plunge into an era of artificial austerity and continued suffering for working families. New York must stand for tax justice, mandate that wealth inequality cannot continue in the midst of a global pandemic and insist that the most vulnerable people in our communities have the material dignity and basic human rights that they are entitled to."

Bradley Hershenson, SUNY Student Association president, said, “As we fight to preserve and enhance the affordability and accessibility of public higher education in New York it is imperative that the leaders of our state pass and sign legislation that ameliorates the economic crisis our state is facing. SUNY campuses across the state are engines of economic opportunity, and revenue-generating policy such as the implementation of the Stock Transfer Tax will help provide the critical support needed during this uncertain time. The return on investment for the state in SUNY is $8.17 on every dollar - the choice for New York is clear.”

Blair Horner, NYPIRG executive director, said, "The state's budget crisis is causing real damage to New York's colleges and universities. non-profits, and local governments. Instead of cuts to vital services, New York should hold onto its Stock Transfer Tax. The state collects billions of dollars from that tax and then gives it back to Wall Street. If it's cuts to services or keeping a tax on Wall Street stock sales, New York should collect the tax."

Michael Kink, Strong Economy for All executive director, said, "It's clearer than ever that Washington won't help New York with our big budget needs; we've got to help ourselves, and we're all in it together. Albany lawmakers must tax the wealthy and Wall Street to protect jobs, strengthen schools and universities and prevent evictions and foreclosures. The stock transfer tax is an essential element in the revenue package that can close this year's budget gap and fund investments in racial and social equity to overcome our worst-in-the-nation economic inequality.”

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 42,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.

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