Samaritan’s Purse has no expectation of receiving a single penny for the weeks of work they did in Central Park to combat the coronavirus. But now New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is asking them to pay taxes for giving free treatment.
The field hospital, which is now shutting down after more than a month in the city, has served some 300 patients in New York City.
Rev. Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, said New York lawmakers asked for help with the pandemic.
“They’re the ones who called us originally,” referring to officials with the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City. “We didn’t call them; they called us,” he said. “And we agreed to go and we have not charged them one penny. All of our services have been paid by God’s people.”
Samaritan’s Purse workers were on the ground, setting up a 68-bed field hospital right after receiving the call, and now they’re being held financially liable for their goodwill because, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), he’s “not in a position to provide any subsidies right now.”
Ken Isaacs, vice president of programs and government relations for Samaritan’s Purse, said he was also surprised to learn the organization would have to pay taxes.
“I said, ‘What?’” Isaacs said. “[The financial comptroller] said, ‘Yeah, there’s a law. If you work in New York state for more than 14 days, you have to pay income tax.’ I didn’t know that.”
Isaacs said he’s also concerned about the paperwork and “bureaucracy” involved in paying taxes to the state.
So even though New York lawmakers and hospital executives asked workers to come from out of state to help in the fight against the coronavirus, they will now have to pay state taxes — even on income they might have made from their home state while they were temporarily living in New York
Since setting up in New York, Samaritan’s Purse has faced an onslaught of criticism. New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called the organization’s presence “extremely troubling,” demanding that they stop treating COVID-19 patients and leave the city.
Graham, however, said this week that they are in the city to “save lives” and not “argue with people.”
“Everybody in the city of New York knows about the tent hospital. We are there in Jesus’ name,” he said. “It’s just something God has done and it’s given us the opportunity to magnify His name in the middle of a crisis.”