December 29, 2012
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Details Tax-Free NY Initiative at SUNYIT

Governor Cuomo Details Tax-Free NY Initiative at SUNYIT

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today traveled to SUNYIT to discuss "Tax-Free NY," a game-changing initiative that will transform SUNY campuses and university communities across the state into tax-free communities that attract start-ups, venture capital, new business, and investments from across the world.

Tax-Free NY will entice companies to bring their ventures to Upstate New York by offering new businesses the opportunity to operate completely tax-free including no income tax for employees, no sales, property or business tax while also partnering with the world-class higher education institutions in the SUNY system.

"Tax-Free NY is designed to turn around decades of decline and change the momentum and the energy of the Upstate economy," Governor Cuomo said. "New York was born from big and bold ideas, and to confront the serious issues facing the Upstate economy we must take the same approach. Tax-Free NY will put together all the positives of New York, the history, the geography, the diversity, the educated workforce, and combine all we have to offer with a tax-free environment. This proposal will make our state more competitive than ever before and supercharge our economic development efforts to rebuild Upstate New York."

Senator Joseph A. Griffo, said, We welcome Governor Cuomo's new initiatives to cut taxes which will enhance New York's ability to be competitive.

Assemblymember Anthony J. Brindisi said, With Tax-Free NY, we can help nurture successful partnerships between innovative universities like SUNYIT, and private sector businesses. Establishing tax-free zones for new businesses that locate around SUNY campuses will bring new opportunities and jobs, and foster much-needed economic development. It also will provide an opportunity many businesses would not be able to find elsewhere.

Tax-Free NY includes:

  • Tax-Free Communities: All SUNY campuses outside of New York City and designated private colleges north of Westchester will be tax free (no sales, property, or business/corporate taxes). An additional 200,000 square feet will be included in the tax-free community, located within one mile of the campus. ESD would have the authority to grant a waiver to go beyond 1 mile. For projects on public education campuses, plans will be reviewed by SUNY and ESD. Plans that do not meet the Tax-Free NY program requirements will be disapproved by ESD.
  • Employees Exempt from Income Taxes: Employees of businesses that open in Tax-Free NY communities will be exempt from paying income taxes.
  • Businesses Eligible for Tax-Free NY: Eligible businesses include companies with a relationship to the academic mission of the university and companies creating new jobs, including new businesses, out-of-state businesses that relocate to New York and existing businesses that expand their New York operations while maintaining their existing jobs.
  • Private Campuses: A total of 3 million sq. feet of tax-free commercial space at private campuses will be available under the Tax-Free NY initiative. All independent colleges are eligible, but property must be located north of Westchester. Campuses will apply in a competitive process to designate commercial space on their properties as tax-free. The selections will be made by a majority of a 3-member board selected by the Governor, Senate and Assembly. Preference will be given to private campuses with existing business incubators.
  • Start-ups Launched from Existing Incubators: Startups hatched from a NYS incubator will be eligible to move into a tax-free community, even if they are not a new business. Currently, an estimated 75% of high tech start-ups launched in New York State leave in the first year.
  • Strategically-located State Property: Tax-Free NY will designate 20 strategically located state properties as tax-free communities. The properties will be selected by a majority of the 3-member board.
  • Protecting Against Fraud: Tax-Free NY will include a series of provisions to protect against fraud. Businesses will have to submit certification to ESD, and falsifying certifications will be a crime. The initiative will include strict provisions to guard against "shirtchanging," or when a company reincorporates under a new name and claims its existing employees are now new jobs. The initiative will also include measures to prevent self-dealing and conflicts of interest. In cases of fraud, the state will be empowered to claw-back benefits granted to the business.
  • SUNY's 64 campuses are located in all corners of New York State, and most New Yorkers live near a SUNY campus:
    • 93% of New Yorkers live within 15 miles of a SUNY campus
    • 97% of New Yorkers live within 20 miles of a SUNY campus
    • 100% of New Yorkers live within 30 miles of a SUNY campus

    To find a nearby SUNY campus, visit New Yorks transparency website at

    Map of campuses:


    Tax-Free NY continues the Governor's work to reverse New York States reputation as the tax capital of the nation. Since taking office, the Governor has cut middle class tax rates to their lowest rates in 60 years, enacted the states first-ever property tax cap, eliminated or greatly reduced the MTA payroll tax for nearly 300,000 small businesses, and provided middle class families with a child tax credit.

    Since taking office, the Governor has focused on growing New York's economy, particularly in Upstate NY, where decades of decline and decay have taken their toll. In this years State of the State address, the Governor expanded on his economic agenda with a focus on innovation. Building on his successful Regional Economic Development Councils and NY SUNY2020, the Governor launched the Innovations Hot Spots Program and created a $50 million Venture Capital fund to help bring to market the technological innovations born at New York States internationally renowned research institutions.

    Tax-Free NY will replicate the economic success of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) in the Capital Region. By partnering with the University at Albany and the State, CNSE grew to become not only a preeminent research college for nanoscale technology, it also attracted billions of dollars in private sector investment, transforming the Capital Region into the international epicenter of the commercial nano-industry. Modeled on this success, Tax-Free NY will entice potential start-ups to bring their new business ventures here to Upstate New York, where they will benefit from resources offered by partnering with higher education institutions as well as the ability to do their business completely tax-free for a decade.

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