By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- The tax rebate program for qualified taxpayers with children in New York will affect about 400,000 households.
"It helps families. Democrats a couple of years ago took away the STAR rebate checks and this is trying to help middle income families who are struggling,'' said Senate co-leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican.
The budget deal tentatively calls for $350 checks -- not to be mailed until sometime in 2014 -- for most taxpayers in New York who have at least one child between the age of four and 18 and are households with incomes of between $40,000 and $300,000 annually. (UPDATE: Legislative sources are now saying the tax break will cover families with children between the ages of birth and 18.)
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, said the program will be worth about $150 million in tax breaks.
On the tentative minimum wage deal, which calls for raising the level from $7.25 to $9 per hour by January 2016, Skelos confirmed a Buffalo News report that the deal will include tax breaks for businesses that employ teenagers making the minimum wage and that tips workers -- such as waiters -- will not be getting the wage hike.
"It protects employers who are hiring young people and it will also encourage them to hire young people,'' he said of the tax break to give refunds to make up the difference they pay when the wage goes up for any worker they employ under the age of 20.
Of the current minimum wage for workers making tips, Skelos said, "That stays the same. That's about 50 percent of the minimum wage earners ... are in that group.'''