Stony Brook Southampton Campus Could Play Home To Tax-Free Start-Up Business

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The Stony Brook Southampton campus in Shinnecock Hills could one day be home to a new start-up company—one that would not pay a cent of taxes for the next decade.

Governor Andrew Cuomo formally launched the START-UP New York initiative, which allows new businesses—namely, high-tech firms founded by venture capitalists—that are created on, near or in partnership with state universities to be exempt from paying income, state, local, business, property, corporate or sales taxes for 10 years.

The initiative was approved by the State Legislature in June but did not take effect until October 22. And while it was primarily designed to help upstate areas, a 5,000-square-foot space inside Stony Brook Southampton’s Atlantic Hall was one of the designated locations for a tax-free start-up company.

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said he thinks a likely and fitting candidate for the space would be a film or television production studio, to coincide with the digital filmmaking program offered on the campus. Such a company could use the space for post-production editing, he said.

“I’m very happy that Stony Brook Southampton was included,” Mr. Thiele said. “There’s been too many times over the last few years where Southampton has been overlooked.”

Because the type of company taking over the space has to be related to an area of study offered on the campus, Mr. Thiele said the other possible options include firms that focus on the marine sciences or physical therapy.

To qualify, companies must be new, relocating to New York, an expanding business or start-ups “hatched” from state incubators. Certain businesses, including retail and wholesale stores, restaurants, law firms, medical practices, as well as energy production and distribution companies, cannot qualify.

Businesses seeking the tax-exempt spaces must apply to do so through the university it seeks to partner with—in this case, SUNY at Stony Brook.

Employees of approved businesses would pay no income tax for the first five years of operation and, for the second five years, pay no income tax on up to $200,000 of wages for individuals, $250,000 for a head of household and $300,000 for taxpayers filing a joint return, according to a press release from Mr. Thiele’s office. No more than 10,000 of these jobs could be created throughout the state annually.

Businesses can apply to enter the program through 2020, at which point Hauppauge-based Empire State Development, the state’s chief economic development agency, will examine the program’s effectiveness to see if the eligibility window should be expanded, according to the release.

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