In recent days, the total number of coronavirus cases in New York has risen above 250,000. Sadly, the epidemic has now taken the lives of more than 15,000 New Yorkers. The Empire State continues to be the focal point of the epidemic in the U.S., as the number of infections and deaths here far eclipses the corresponding numbers from other states. Despite this sad news, however, there are encouraging signs that the epidemic is letting up; hospitalizations and fatalities are declining.
Many heroes have risen to the challenge of fighting the COVID-19 epidemic in New York. In particular, New York’s first responders deserve praise and appreciation. Despite exhausting and stressful working conditions, and despite the clear risk to their own lives and health, first responders have worked on the front lines of this battle to treat those who are sick and, in so doing, to protect the rest of us.
Sen. Joe Griffo (R-Rome) and Asm. Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) have introduced legislation to thank first responders for their efforts and to provide them with tax relief. Under Bill S.8196-Griffo/A.10304-Stec, qualified first responders (physicians, nurses, pharmacists, law enforcement officers, corrections officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics) would pay no state income tax on income earned between February 15, 2020 and June 15, 2020. (The bill applies to first responders that work in counties where at least one resident has tested positive for the coronavirus; at this point, however, individuals have tested positive for the coronavirus in all 62 counties in New York.) Tax relief for first responders could be extended for an additional three months if the epidemic should continue beyond June 15.
The bill memorandum notes that “first responders and medical professionals are placing themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis, and the state should seek to thank them in whatever way we can. This bill provides these brave individuals with a token of appreciation by providing them with an exemption on [state] income taxes for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak.”
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms supports this common-sense legislation and calls upon the Senate and Assembly majorities to work in bipartisan fashion to pass it. It’s the least we can do to support our heroic first responders.
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