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Local business owners on Governor's proposal to shift tax liability

Frank Cristiano feeds his family by feeding his customers at his restaurant, Tony's Pizzeria/Sports Bar, in Washington Mills. But after the governor's budget address, on Tuesday, he's just fed up.

Posted: Jan 17, 2018 5:51 PM
Updated: Jan 17, 2018 5:58 PM

Frank Cristiano feeds his family by feeding his customers at his restaurant, Tony's Pizzeria/Sports Bar, in Washington Mills. But after the governor's budget address, on Tuesday, he's just fed up.

"At what point do we say we've had enough and I pack up and move to a user-friendly state? Because there are a lot of them out there that are begging for people to come and set up businesses and create employment and have that state prosper," said Cristiano, in response to the governor's admittedly dramatic proposed shift in state income tax responsibility from the employee, to the employer.

"The federal changes basically attack our state income tax structure," said the governor, at his Tuesday address. "Rather than have a tax on the income received by the employee, tax the wages paid by the employer."

The governor offered immediate reassurance to weary business owners.

"The payment by the employer is federally deductible. The employee has no state income tax liability on those taxes."

But Cristiano says deductions aren't endless, and likely will not keep him whole.

"They're never 100% and how much can i deduct? Up to a certain point, I'm gonna get to zero. Any of that money below zero, I'm not getting that back. Even if I end up below, I could be under that zero number for reporting and it's gonna cost me whatever money I had to put in under that."

The proposed shift is just one of many proposals in the governor's 2019 spending plan, which is now in the hands of the state legislature. The lawmakers have until April 1 to pass an on-time budget, but it's not clear if Easter and Passover will require an on-time budget to be even earlier.

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