* Seeks to raise taxes on private equity firms
* Wants end to tax breaks for Madison Square Garden,
* Taxes would help offset $500 mln tax breaks for small
* Comptroller John Liu possible mayoral candidate in 2013
By Hilary Russ
Dec 20 New York City's top financial officer and
possible contender for mayor in 2013, John Liu, proposed on
Thursday tax hikes for big businesses and an end to Madison
Square Garden's $15 million annual property tax exemption.
The proposals by New York City Comptroller John Liu include
tax hikes on private equity firms, which would help offset his
plan for $500 million in tax breaks and lowered fines for 90
percent of the city's small businesses.
Liu is expected to vie for the Democratic mayoral nomination
for the election in November 2013.
The city could end tax breaks for big companies - more than
$250 million of which were handed out last year, Liu said.
The city could also eliminate its $15 million annual
property tax exemption for Madison Square Garden, the indoor
arena in midtown Manhattan that's home to the New York Knicks
basketball team. Madison Square Garden has been exempt from
paying taxes on real property since 1982 under New York state
The arena is owned by The Madison Square Garden Co,
which also owns the Knicks and other professional sports teams.
The company also owns Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre
and others venues, as well as television networks.
Liu also proposed examining tax breaks for special
interests. Insurance companies, for instance, have not paid the
general corporation tax since 1974, at a cost of $300 million
annually to the city, he said.
Private equity firms could also start paying the
unincorporated business tax for carried interest or gains from
assets being held for investment. The exemption costs New York
City about $200 million a year, Liu said.
Liu's package would use the revenue generated by those
measures to offset his plan to ease the tax burden for small
He proposed ending the city's general corporation tax for
all businesses with liabilities under $5,000 -- about 240,000
business in the city, or 85 percent of those that currently pay
His plan would also reduce some fines, as well as exempt
businesses that make less than $250,000 in annual income from
the city's unincorporated business tax.
The proposals would have to be approved by the governor and
state legislature after a request by the city council.
The city is facing a possible $2.7 billion gap in fiscal
2014 that could grow to $3.8 billion the following year, Liu