A passenger boards a Long Island Rail Road train in Long Beach (Joe Abate).
A passenger boards a Long Island Rail Road train in Long Beach (Joe Abate).

New York State’s top court has declined to hear an appeal by Nassau County’s attorneys seeking to overturn the MTA payroll tax, meaning the legal saga hit the end of the line.

The state Court of Appeals this week effectively preserved the reported $1.3 billion annual revenue stream for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the Long Island Rail Road, funds Suffolk County buses and used to run Nassau’s since-privatized buses.

“This concludes a series of court rulings confirming that the [payroll mobility tax] is constitutional, and that funding the operation and improvement of essential transportation services provided by the MTA is a matter of substantial state concern,” Kevin Ortiz, an MTA spokesman, said in a statement.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano had sued the MTA to block the tax shortly after the State Legislature in 2009 passed the 34-cent levy on every $100 in payroll within the 12 counties the transit agency serves as a bailout for the then-broke MTA.

A lower court had agreed with the county’s argument that the tax is unconstitutional, but an appellate panel ruling later overturned that ruling. The state’s highest court’s refusal to hear an appeal leaves the tax in effect.

Nassau County Attorney Carnell Foskey did not return a call for comment. A spokesman for Mangano credited the lawsuit with prompting the State Legislature to cut the tax for small businesses, although some still must pay.

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Republicans state lawmakers signaled that they are still pushing for the tax to be undone regardless of the court’s ruling.

“We will continue to fight until its fully repealed,” State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola), one of two state senators from LI who unseated Democratic incumbents who were key to passage of the tax, said in a statement posted online.


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Timothy Bolger is the Managing Editor for the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.