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Pols propose temporary tax cut for Manhattan mom-and-pops

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Brad Hoylman and Harvey Epstein are going to bat for small businesses as the ongoing pandemic puts a nightmare “squeeze play” on the city’s merchants.

The state senator and assemblymember recently introduced the Manhattan Mom & Pop Tax Relief Act. The legislation would suspend collection of the Commercial Rent Tax during the COVID-19 pandemic from small businesses with a base rent of less than $1 million per year.

The C.R.T. is charged only to commercial tenants in Manhattan south of 96th St. and is a 3.9 percent effective tax on rent paid. The bill would provide additional relief to small businesses amid current and possible future government-ordered restrictions on businesses to combat the increasingly spread of COVID-19.

About 5,500 Manhattan businesses in brick-and-mortar locations would benefit from the suspension of the Commercial Rent Tax under the legislation.

This bill serves as companion legislation to a local bill introduced by City Councilmember Keith Powers to suspend the C.R.T.

“Mom-and-pop businesses have been hit hard by COVID-19, as any New Yorker can tell from the skyrocketing number of storefront vacancies in Manhattan,” State Senator Hoylman said. “It’s unfair that only small businesses south of 96th St. are forced to pay the Commercial Rent Tax, so we’re throwing approximately 5,500 of them a lifeline with the Manhattan Mom & Pop Tax Relief Act, which suspends the collection of this tax during COVID. If we don’t act quickly to provide financial assistance to our small businesses, especially as more pandemic lockdowns are considered, more of them are going to disappear.”

Yes, Closed really is the name of a German-based clothing company. Its posters were pasted on the closed former storefront of Cherche Midi, at Bowery and Houston St., which restaurateur Keith McNally shuttered this summer. Other Manhattan merchants and eateries are hoping to avoid a similar fate during the crushing pandemic. (Photo by The Village Sun)
(Photo by The Village Sun)
(Photo by The Village Sun)

“Our small business sector was ailing even before the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to the closure of thousands more beloved businesses since government-mandated restrictions took effect in March,” Assemblymember Epstein said. “We have a responsibility to ensure the economic well-being of our state as we continue fighting to emerge from this public health crisis. A tax holiday, as proposed in our legislation, is an important part of the solution to stem the tide of small business closures.”

Councilmember Powers said, “This is money back in the hands of small business owners. New York is experiencing a state of emergency and our response to help businesses recover must be commensurate. Relieving payment of the commercial rent tax at this time is a tangible benefit for businesses. A commercial rent tax holiday means immediate relief.”

From March 1 to Aug. 1 of this year, more than 2,800 businesses permanently closed in New York City. The Partnership for New York City estimates as many as one-third of Gotham’s 240,000 small businesses may shut down during an extended pandemic. Small businesses currently employ more than 3 million people — half of the city’s workforce.

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