Drivers in New York will enjoy at least a partial break from the state’s gasoline tax beginning June 1.
The state’s new budget knocks 16 cents off the price of a gallon of unleaded or diesel gasoline between June 1 and December 31. It’s part of a $220 billion budget New York’s state Legislature approved April 7 and 8.
Governor Kathy Hochul urged county governments across the state to follow suit and suspend local sales taxes on gasoline over the same period. Counties currently are allowed to cap their local sales tax at 8 cents or 12 cents per gallon, the budget provides a new option to cap the tax at 16 cents, as well.
Otsego County’s sales tax rate on gasoline currently stands at four percent per gallon, accounting for some 8 – 10 percent of the county’s total sales tax revenue according to the New York State Association of Counties.
IKEA opened its first northeast enormostore just outside of Newark, New Jersey, in 1990, at a time when the sales tax there stood at four percent. The company filled New York City subway cars with signs enticing the locals to take a ride over the bridge where they could buy all the things they need and save a bundle on sales tax (the combined New York state and city rate at the time hovering around eight percent). Legend has it Albany was none too pleased by this tax-evading subterfuge and instructed staff from the Tax Department to prowl IKEA’s parking lot to take pictures of New York license plates. They’d match DMV records to the photos and send a letter to the registered owner with a friendly reminder that if they had purchased anything while out-of-state, they were obliged to report that to New York and cough up the “use tax” they had evaded by shopping in New Jersey.
Over the years, we’ve heard occasional denials that such activity ever took place.
Of course it didn’t!
No, instead we have LINE 59 on our annual state income tax return. From the instruction booklet we read this declarative: Report your sales or use tax liability on this line. Do not leave Line 59 blank.
If you use store-bought tax return software and try to enter a zero on LINE 59, it comes back as an error.
I was present at the birth for Line 59, advocating for it in my previous life as the lobbyist for New York’s brick-and-mortar retailers. This was in the early 2000s when Internet-only merchants were starting to ransack the retail
Our friends at GasBuddy.com report we in New York are paying nearly 26 cents per gallon more than we were a month ago and a whopping $1.05 per gallon than one year ago.
Surely someone is to blame, right? Presidents take credit when the price at the pump plummets, so they’re certainly within criticism range when the price rises. Vladimir Putin gets a good bonk on the noggin, too, for his Ukrainian exploits. COVID uncertainty rattles the market – an increase in consumer demand as we head back out on the roads post-pandemic and prepare for our typical summertime driving. The gas companies – for Pete’s sake, how is it that gas prices are so quick to go up when the price of oil rises but seem to take forever to drop when the price-per-barrel falls.
And it’s an election year.
Gird yourself, then, for press releases out of Albany proclaiming bills to halt the eight-cents-a-gallon sales tax on gasoline, plans couched with wallet-friendly phrases like “we need to give New York drivers and working families a break” and “it’s a small step we can take to relieve the pain at the pump.” Some media outlets will jump at the opportunity to give that glimmer of hope that there might be some relief in store.
Sales tax revenue for local governments in New York state rose by 49.2% in the second quarter (April to June 2021) compared to the same period last year, a dramatic increase from last year’s weak collections during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
Sales tax collections during this period grew by just over $1.6 billion and even surpassed collections reported during the second quarter of 2019, before the onset of the pandemic.
“The strength of these collections, along with federal aid, will give local governments statewide the chance to improve their fiscal stability, but it will take time to recover from the strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” DiNapoli said in a media release. “While this is good news, local leaders are advised to budget carefully. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to always plan for unpredictable circumstances.”
The size of the increase largely reflects extremely weak collections in the April to June period of 2020. However, even compared to pre-pandemic collections for the same period in 2019, statewide collections in 2021 were up 8.7% or $396 million.
COOPERSTOWN – Only two counties in New York State saw their sales tax drop in the most recent report – Hamilton in the Adirondacks and Otsego, county Treasurer Allen Ruffles reported to the county Board of Representatives this morning,.
COOPERSTOWN – County Treasurer Dan Crowell reported today that the rate in bed-tax growth in 2015 was almost 2½ times higher than the year before – 11.21 percent last year, compared to $4.74 the year before.
He cited increased number of visitors, new hotel construction (Courtyard by Marriott in Oneonta), increased weekly rentals and enhanced collection of sales-tax revenues as among the factors.
He didn’t specify it, but the 2015 Hall of Fame Induction of Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz draw the fourth-largest crowd.
The Village of Cooperstown is seeing the greatest dollar growth; the Village of Unadilla, the greatest percentage growth. “Overall, growth is the strongest and most consistent among the more highly active municipalities,” he said.