Suffolk to join lawsuit over MTA payroll tax

09/17/2010 12:00 AM |

Suffolk County will likely join neighboring Nassau in a lawsuit claiming the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s payroll tax is unconstitutional.
The tax forces all employers, including school districts and local municipalities, to pay 34 cents for every $100 spent in payroll to the MTA. The tax is instituted in New York City and the surrounding counties, including Suffolk.
The lawsuit charges the tax should have required a two-thirds vote in the State Legislature for passage and is a violation of the state’s home rule laws.
Under home rule laws, New York State is required to submit a home rule message to local municipalities seeking permission to enact legislation that is not statewide. The MTA tax applies only in service areas of the MTA but no home rule message was ever sent to the affected towns and counties.
The County Legislature unanimously adopted a bill sponsored by Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches) Thursday directing Suffolk to join Nassau in the lawsuit. It is now pending the signature of Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy.
“Taxpayers spend billions propping up the MTA,” Mr. Romaine said in a statement. “This must end.”
In April, the supervisors of seven eastern Suffolk towns, including Riverhead and Brookhaven, announced their municipalities would also be filing a joint lawsuit against the transit authority over the payroll tax.
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