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October 1, 1998 

Two Council wins take effect: cuts in estate taxes, utility gross receipts tax

New York State's tax cuts just keep going and going.

First steps in two major tax reductions-elimination of the state's added estate tax and reduction of the gross receipts tax on utility bills-took effect Oct. 1. Both cuts were top priorities for The Business Council, which lobbied successfully for their adoption.

As a result of legislation Governor Pataki initiated in 1997, New York will exempt the first $600,000 of an estate's value from tax and will reduce the top estate tax rate from 21 to 16 percent.

Those changes, which will take effect February 1, 2000, will make New York's death taxes as low as any in the nation-and lower than those in states such as Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Taxpayers will save about $400 million a year.

As a first step toward that reform, the basic estate tax exemption rose from $115,000 to $300,000 Oct. 1. The value of a primary residence is also exempt, up to $250,000.

On the same date, the GRT on both energy and telecommunications utility bills dropped from 3.5 to 3.25 percent, as a result of legislation initiated by Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno in 1997. That law will cut the GRT to 2.5 percent on January 1, 2000. Utility ratepayers will save $440 million in taxes.

"The state's tax-cutting record of the past four years is truly impressive, and a key reason New York is coming back," said Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh.

"There's more to be done-but New Yorkers and business owners everywhere must recognize our great progress."