New York Forces Entrepreneur to Subsidize His Competitor

(p. A24) Last year, the State Legislature levied a new tariff on most of the businesses in the New York City region. The metropolitan commuter transportation mobility tax requires employers to set aside 34 cents for every $100 in payroll costs, and hand the money over to a battered, barely breathing patient on the state’s fiscal operating table: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The tax has not worked out so well. So far, its projected revenues are coming in about $400 million below the state’s estimates — which, in part, will mean reduced subway and bus service for New Yorkers starting this summer. It has also prompted a furious backlash from suburban officials who resent bankrolling an agency that, they say, benefits the city at the expense of its surrounding counties.
And then there is William Schoolman, 69, amateur activist, self-described ”prototypical entrepreneur,” and proprietor of the Hampton Luxury Liner bus fleet. In December, he filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court claiming the tax is unconstitutional and demanding its repeal. The reason?
”Competition,” Mr. Schoolman said in a recent telephone interview, anger rising in his voice. ”This is the first time that I ever had to pay a subsidy directly to my competitor. That’s the thing that really bothers me.”

For the full story, see:
MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM. “Suing Over a Transit Tax, in the Name of Competition.” The New York Times (Tues., February 16, 2010): A24.

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