Unshackle Upstate has a new executive director, Michael Kracker, and new legislative scorecards.

We sit down with the pro-business organization's new leader to discuss how he sees the New York State landscape for business, politics, and growth.

President Trump took to Twitter earlier this week to praise the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The new federal tax bill was signed into law in December of 2017. On Twitter this Sunday, the President said: “4.2 Million hard working americans have already received a large bonus and/or pay increase because of our recently passed tax cut & jobs bill....And it will only get better!”

If that’s the case, why is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo threatening to sue the federal government over the tax law? On this edition of Need to Know we’re examining the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the confusion around the new law, and what it means for New Yorkers.

It’s received praise by some and disdain by others. On this edition of Need to Know, we’re talking about the new federal tax bill and the key points you need to know about with tax season now in full swing.

Also on the show, he says his life is an open book and he wants you to know the full story. Rock star Eddie Money visits the WXXI Studios to discuss the purpose behind his new musical premiering this week in Rochester.

The new federal tax bill was advertised as a way to cut taxes for most Americans, but what about SALT? It stands for State and Local Taxes, and it has been a big deduction for many taxpayers. The federal bill has a new cap on the deductions. Experts say it could impact many taxpayers -- not just the wealthiest -- but there are conflicting reports on what is actually going on.

Our panel explains and answer your tax questions. Our guests:

Do you feel your property tax assessment is fair? Do you understand how the process works? Maybe more importantly, if you want to challenge your assessment, do you know how to do it? 

Our guest is Paychex founder and local philanthropist Tom Golisano. He's back to talk about his efforts to make the system -- in his words -- more fair for property owners. He says right now, it's too difficult to challenge your assessment. He says the process is inconsistent, often opaque, there's too little time to make challenges, and it rarely works out for the property owner. 

Golisano has launched a new website called "Tax My Property Fairly" to help property owners, and he's calling for systematic change. We discuss his efforts and the property tax assessment process.

*Please see the below statement from City of Rochester Communications Director James Smith:

“The City has been working on a weekly basis with the development team, with RBTL as the primary point of contact for this project.  RBTL has communicated to us that they have been in constant discussion with all of their funders on the project status.  We would certainly welcome direct involvement and communication with Mr. Golisano as part of that development process.  His willingness to support this project is important and we remain grateful for his generosity.”

Administrators at some large, private colleges and universities are speaking out against the tax plan recently passed by Congress. The plan would tax large endowments at some institutions, and administrators say that will hinder their ability to provide financial aid to students and cut back on faculty salaries and research. Supporters of the plan say the tax will push universities to invest more in education instead of stashing funds in large endowments.

The issue has sparked discussion about the value of endowments and what they cover. This hour, our guests help us understand what endowments are, who they benefit, and we break down how the tax plan will impact them. Our guests:

  • Daan Braveman, president of Nazareth College
  • Patrick Richey, vice president of finance for Nazareth College


Despite some confusion over the new rules, local town and county officials are still expecting a very busy day on Friday with homeowners who want to pay their property taxes early.

The situation involving the deductibility of property and other taxes is already creating a lot of questions, and with an advisory issued by the IRS on Wednesday, it only added to the confusion. 

Basically, the federal agency said that tax filers can only avoid the new cap on the property tax deduction by paying property taxes that have been assessed in 2017.

We're discussing taxes -- specifically, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC is a federal and state anti-poverty program that assists low income households by giving them extra cash based on their income. In Monroe County, approximately 60,000 households will receive an average of $4,000 between the federal and state EITC.

This hour, our guests help us understand what the EITC is, who it benefits, the pros and cons of the program, and what you need to know. In studio:

Last week, we heard from Congressman Tom Reed on why he wants the GOP tax plan to pass; today we hear from some who oppose it. Grad students in particular are concerned that it will balloon their expenses, blocking their career paths. And in Rochester, a bipartisan coalition of mayors and supervisors spoke about their concerns.

We get their perspective on who will be impacted, and how.

  • Scott O'Neil, University of Rochester graduate student
  • Helen Davies, University of Rochester graduate student
  • Bill Moehle, supervisor for the town of Brighton

Congress is debating a new tax plan that would bring changes for many American families. So how does it work? Who would benefit, and who would pay more? Our guests: