Simotas: New Legislation to Provide Tax Relief to Any Small Business Hurt by MTA Subway Station Maintenance Work and Closures or Other State and Local Infrastructure Projects

March 9, 2018

In response to desperate small business owners in Astoria who have been hurt by subway station closures, Queens Assemblymember Aravella Simotas introduced legislation to give tax relief to any New York small business that experiences significant loss or dislocation from a state or local infrastructure project.

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas said, “I cannot sit still while small businesses become sacrifices on the altar of subway maintenance work and renovations. My bill will strike a balance so that the costs of achieving a common good stemming from infrastructure projects are shared and not borne solely by a struggling small business sector. Astoria’s merchants, small shops and restaurants are absolutely essential to the life of our community, giving the neighborhood its vibrancy and its character. These businesses must survive.”

In Astoria there are two stations on the N & W line that have been completely closed since October 2017 as part of the MTA’s Enhanced Station Initiative (ESI), the 30th and 36th Avenue stations. The closures have caused a big drop in foot traffic and far fewer customers at the small shops, restaurants and bars that are the economic backbone of the neighborhood. Construction equipment has also made it difficult to access or even see some of the businesses along 31st Street. As part of the ESI, the 39th Avenue and Broadway stations are scheduled to shut down this summer once 30th and 36th Avenue open.

The Simotas legislation (A10003) would give small businesses an income tax and franchise tax credit covering one hundred percent of their lost income due to state or local infrastructure projects, for taxable years commencing with 2018. A small business is defined as one that is independently owned and operated and has 100 or fewer full time employees. Small businesses would be eligible for the tax credits when they suffer a financial loss of at least twenty-five percent of projected revenue as a result of an infrastructure project.

Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) said, “It is unacceptable to burden Astoria business owners and commuters with extended subway closures,” said Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “Businesses in Astoria depend on an efficient subway as a reliable source of commerce, and they will bear the brunt of these service interruptions. I applaud Assemblymember Simotas for creating a plan that will reduce the impact of closures on local job creators and business owners.”

State Senator Michael Gianaris said, “The MTA’s ill-advised Enhanced Station Initiative not only hurts commuters but is putting decades-old businesses at risk. We must do what we can to help our local economy survive this assault.”

Councilmember Costa Constantinides said, “The MTA has continued to disregard our community and keep entire subway stations closed for merely cosmetic updates. Our small neighborhood businesses have been hurt by these unnecessary and misguided closures and other infrastructure projects. Our entire community loses if our small businesses continue to suffer these negative effects. Giving these businesses tax credits for their losses would show Astorians that our government cares about the livelihood of our small business owners and their families. It would also ensure that our neighborhood can continue to grow while providing world-class opportunities for shopping, food, and entertainment for all residents. Thank you to Assemblymember Simotas for her leadership on this important legislation."

Frank Arcabascio, Acting Director of the 30th Avenue Business Association and owner of Redken Saloon Salon, 3617 30th Avenue, Astoria, said, “The eight month shutdown of the 30th Avenue train station is crippling our businesses, with my losses now at nearly 30%. We’ve put up with Con Edison repairs countless times but those disruptions last between 2 to 4 weeks. What the MTA has done is to devastate this business corridor with an 8 month disruption and that should be illegal. Tax relief would be a huge help and for some Astoria businesses it may be their only shot at survival."

Jesse Tang, owner of the Pink Nori, a Japanese restaurant at 36-06 30th Avenue, Astoria, said, "The 8 month closure of the 30th Avenue train station has cut off a significant amount of foot traffic to the avenue and that’s been a disaster for many businesses located there. It is only right for the businesses that have been hurt to receive some sort of tax relief for such a lengthy and unprecedented project.”

Florence Koulouris, District Manager Community Board 1-Queens said, “We’ve been monitoring the situation in Astoria since the subway station renovations began and sadly some businesses have already been forced to close from losing so many customers. Others are struggling to survive. The Community Board applauds Assemblymember Simotas for her dedication to Astoria business owners and residents. I urge the legislature to pass her tax relief bill which would enable businesses to survive through a difficult time.”