By Larry Penner
Reintroduction of a non-NYC resident commuter tax makes no sense. This recycled idea is periodically proposed, missing the potential economic consequences. In today’s global economy, boundaries ending at the city line mean little.
The United States is in economic competition against other nations. Within the U.S., residents of the Northeastern states compete against other states in the geographic South, Rocky Mountains, West and other regions. Our metro area — comprising NYC, Long Island, northeast New Jersey, Hudson Valley and parts of Connecticut — is in competition against other metropolitan areas around the nation and world.
Several hundred thousand suburban residents travel to jobs in NYC, the economic engine of our metropolitan region. Many NYC residents have become reverse commuters to jobs in the suburbs, New Jersey and Connecticut. NYC can’t survive economically in today’s changing technology and global economy without the rest of the region. The suburbs around the Big Apple are equally dependent on the success of NYC.
Residents of the suburbs and NYC have much in common. We should work together as neighbors and not adversaries. Reintroduction of a commuter tax on one set of non-residents could trigger an economic tariff war among neighbors.
With the financial crises on Wall Street, resulting in the economic recession last decade, thousands of commuters outside of NYC lost their jobs. Most of these jobs have never come back. With downsizing of Wall Street firms, moving back-room office support services to New Jersey and the suburbs, along with conversion of offices and older buildings in the financial district into residential units, these job losses have become permanent.
Reintroduction of any nonresident commuter tax will not bring in the same level of revenues from the 1990s when they were last in place. It could result in a retaliatory commuter tax by suburban counties or neighboring states on NYC residents.
In the end, everyone could lose with implementation of any non-NYC resident commuter tax.