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Nassau judge shoots down MTA payroll tax

If the MTA tax ruling stands, straphangers and Long Island Rail Road commuters could face fare hikes.
TimesLedger Newspapers

A state judge on Long Island has ruled the payroll tax enacted to save the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from financial ruin is unconstitutional, but the MTA expressed optimism it will be upheld on appeal.

New York State Judge Bruce Cozzens of Nassau County ruled that the tax “does not serve a substantial state interest.”

The tax, which provides some $1.2 billion annually for the MTA, was opposed by interests in Nassau and Suffolk on Long Island, Westchester County and other outlying areas.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano hailed the court ruling as “a great victory for every taxpayer.”

But the MTA said it would “vigorously appeal” the decision.

“We believe this opinion will be overturned since four prior challenges to the constitutionality of the law making the same argument have been dismissed,”the MTA said.

The New York State Legislature approved the tax in 2009 at a time when the MTA faced perhaps its worst point of financial peril.

The tax is assessed in the 12 counties served by the MTA, which operates the subways, buses and the Long Island Rail Road as well as the Metro North commuter line.

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