The governor of New York has begged the city’s wealthy, who fled the coronavirus outbreak, to return and help it recover.
Andrew Cuomo said he was extremely worried about New York City weathering the Covid-19 aftermath if too many of the well-heeled taxpayers who fled to second homes decide there is no need to move back.
“They are in their Hamptons homes, or Hudson Valley or Connecticut. I talk to them literally every day. I say. ‘When are you coming back? I’ll buy you a drink. I’ll cook,’ “ Mr Cuomo told MSNBC, naming popular getaways for the rich.
“They’re not coming back right now. And you know what else they’re thinking, if I stay there, they pay a lower income tax because they don’t pay the New York City surcharge. So, that would be a bad place if we had to go there.”
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Lawmakers have proposed a wealth tax targeting the city's 100 billionaires to help fill a $30 billion (£23bn) budget shortfall created by the Covid-19 crisis.
However, Mr Cuomo, a Democrat, said he could not support greater taxes on the ultra-wealthy as rich people already have one foot out of New York City and he fears they will leave for good if their taxes go up.
Instead, he wants the federal government and New York's congressional representatives to send billions of dollars in aid.
“A single per cent of New York’s population pays half of the state’s taxes,” he said, “and they’re the most mobile people on the globe.”
Rather than temporarily riding out the storm, New York City residents - many of whom are able to work from home - appear to be settling down. Enrollment has spiked at Hamptons schools, while city restaurants have followed their customers out to the Long Island shores.
Retailers say the city is now the worst place to do business in the country, blaming its strict months-long lockdown and exodus of its wealthiest residents.
They report foot traffic at Manhattan stores is down 85 per cent from a year ago. Nearly 3,000 small businesses in New York City have closed for good in the past four months.
Broadway theatres - normally a big draw for tourists - announced they will remain closed until at least January 2021.
“We expected New York City to be like the rest of the country when we reopened our stores here, but it’s a complete outlier,” said Lawrence Berger, chairman of sports cap company Lids, which has a flagship in Times Square. “There is no way to make money. It’s not an economically viable situation."