RUSH: I have admitted on this program countless times, I left New York in 1997 strictly to get away from the onerous taxation. I don’t want to talk numbers, but it was humongous. And there was nothing that I was getting for that money in New York that I couldn’t get somewhere else, and I could spend that money on things that I considered more worthwhile than propping up the New York City and New York state welfare states, which are independent of the federal welfare state. So I used my mobility and I moved.
Thomas Golisano, who owns the Buffalo Sabres and is the CEO of Paychex, which is a payroll company, has a piece today in the New York Post: ‘I Love New York. But how much should it cost to call New York home? Decades of out-of-control budgets, spending hikes and relentless borrowing have made New York simply too expensive. Politicians like to talk about incentives — for businesses to relocate, for example, or to get folks to buy local. After reviewing the new budget, I have identified the most compelling incentive of all: a major tax break immediately available to all New Yorkers. To be eligible, you need do only one thing: move out of New York state.
Then he says this: ‘Last week I spent 90 minutes doing a couple of simple things — registering to vote, changing my driver’s license, filling out a domicile certificate and signing a homestead certificate — in Florida. Combined with spending 184 days a year outside New York, these simple procedures will save me over $5 million in New York taxes annually,’ which is about $13,800 in taxes a day. And then he says, ‘By moving to Florida, I can spend that $5 million on worthy causes, like better hospitals, improving education or the Clinton Global Initiative. Or maybe I’ll continue to invest it in fighting the status quo in Albany. One thing’s certain: That money won’t continue to fund Albany’s bloated bureaucracy, corrupt politicians and regular special-interest handouts. How did the state get to this point? By spending, spending and spending some more.’
So, Thomas Golisano is exercising the mobility that federalism promises. He is escaping New York. He’s moving here to Florida, which has no state income tax. However, Mr. Golisano, I gave you some advice a couple of days ago, and I’m going to do so again today. Forget this notion about spending 184 days a year outside New York as qualifying you for an exemption in New York state taxes. I left in ’97. In 2002 I got a notice I was being audited for ’97 through 2002. And the state’s starting point was that I had not really left, that I’d just said I had left to avoid their taxes. I began a two-year process of proving where I was every day of the year, 14 different ways.
At the end of this process I could either have taken them to court (and you always lose in tax court) or just settle, and the settlement was that for every day I work in New York I’ll pay state and city taxes based on my income that year, a per diem tax. I spend 15 to 20 days in New York and been paying it. I paid the back taxes from ’97 to 2002. Last October I got a notice I’m being audited from 2005 to 2007. This audit is over the top. This audit is nothing but pure political harassment. I got a request for documents the other day that… They defy explanation. I’ve got so many different ways I can prove where I was, not the least of which is the Dittocam. The studios are different. The IP addresses of computers, telephones all of this stuff. It doesn’t matter. It’s just pure political harassment, all for whatever amount of taxes they can collect from me.
I’ll give you my number. My number is $20,000 a day, every day I work in New York, $20,000 a day. Sometimes 18, sometimes 20. My income changes year to year, so I guess it averaged out $18,000 a day. Whether I’m in New York zero days or not, I get audited. This 184 days a year, Mr. Golisano, if you think all you have gotta do is spend six months and one day outside of New York? (snorts) Not true. Mr. Golisano, you own the Buffalo Sabres, the hockey team in Buffalo, New York. That team does business in New York every day. You derive income from the business activities of the Buffalo Sabres every day. New York state is going to catch up to you since you’ve advertised what you’ve done, and they’re going to demand taxes from you as though you are a resident because you are earning money in New York via the Buffalo Sabres.
And if Paychex is headquartered there, too, it’s not going to matter where you live. They’re going to come after you and they’re going to demand you prove it. They’re going to assume… You’re going to have to tabulate the days, and if you’re in New York 180 days, you’re going to pay the per diem tax on 180 days. As long as you have the Sabres and it’s generating income or revenue for you every day of the year — and it’s a year-round business, not just the season when the hockey games are played. So the point is that even though you have mobility, these governments that are horribly in debt still have only one place to go to get money that they refuse to stop spending themselves, and that is from the producers and the people who are working — and they don’t care the impact it has.
Now, Mr. Golisano is going to either have to move the Buffalo Sabres somewhere or sell ’em. Because you have an asset there, buddy, and you derive income from it every day. Therefore you are getting paid. Part of your income derives from income generated in New York whether you live here or not. That is how the state plays the game. So this is a hideous thing that happens. I think New York state has a unit in Albany that does nothing but follow people who leave New York to no-income-tax states and harass them. I’m sure that’s how they find you, keep up with you, and eventually come calling on you. And if, you know, you’re a public figure, a lightning rod figure, the people that work for you, they don’t want any trouble, you know, so you have to provide the aggressiveness yourself. It’s a very maddening and frustrating thing.