Assemblyman Pete Lopez Says Withholding Income Tax Refunds Steers Governor’s “Reality Check” Off Course

A Statement from Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R, C, I – Schoharie)
February 21, 2010
During his State of the State address and budget proposals, Governor Paterson attempted to give Albany a “reality check” in order to encourage the State Legislature to chart a new course of responsible spending, living within our means, and preparing ourselves for a more sustainable future.

While I agree with that message, the Governor steered way off course with his plan to withhold $500 million of the monies reserved for personal income tax refunds.

This, I cannot support.

The homeowners, seniors, hard-working men and women of our state already are struggling to make ends meet. The message from the Governor has only further heightened their concerns that they could lose their home, lose their job, lose their family’s future here in New York.

There are many ways the state can find the $500 million it needs: merging administrations, scaling back on purchases, restricting travel – even borrowing against the State’s “rainy day” fund to meet cash flow concerns. Threatening to withhold the income tax returns of our struggling families – their money - is not the answer.

By law, NYS has 45 days from the date a person files, to send the refund. If the State exceeds 45 days, it is required to pay interest on the refund. By law, NYS must meet this obligation.

Governor Paterson must not hold the families of New York hostage. This money belongs to New Yorkers, and not the State of New York.