IDAs keep authority to grant state sales tax breaks

By THOMAS ADAMS - 3/26/2013 3:13:18 PM

Local industrial development agencies will not lose their authority to approve exemptions on state sales taxes or be limited to certain business sectors, economic development leaders said Tuesday.

State legislative leaders came to a compromise Monday with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose executive budget sought to transfer the exemptions to state authorities.

Brian McMahon, executive director of the New York State Economic Development Council, confirmed the compromise.

Local and state economic development groups opposed the proposed change, which they said would remove control of IDA tax breaks from local hands. It also would delay and restrict local projects.

Cuomo proposed giving the Empire State Development Corp. or the state’s regional economic development councils final approval on state sales tax breaks. He also wanted to limit the exemptions to projects qualifying under the ESDC’s Excelsior Jobs Program.

The agreement does restore pre-2008 restrictions on retail projects that are not part of a tourism destination project, are not located in a distressed area and do not provide a product or service to an area that otherwise would not be available, McMahon said in correspondence with economic development representatives.

IDAs will be required to keep records of state and local sales tax exemptions for each project approved, and provide those records to the state tax commissioner upon request, McMahon noted.

They must report the amount of the exemptions, and must recapture or repay the lost revenue if the recipient fails to meet IDA requirements for job creation, he noted. They also will be required to file annual reports with the tax commissioner on the terms of the approvals, and provide details on deals online and in writing without charge.

Judith Seil, executive director of the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency and director of the county's Department of Planning and Development, said the agreement means significant paperwork for COMIDA.

Much of it will be duplicative, she said.

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