Friday, January 02, 2009

OT: A Taxing Proposition

There's some crazy ideas being floated here in NY by our own Gov. Patterson.

There are currently proposed taxes on music and movie downloads. Also proposed are taxes on movie tickets.

There are additional proposals for increased fees in NY state. Soon my (rarely used) drivers license could cost as much as $30/year.

However, the one idea making the most news is a proposed 18 cent/container tax on "sugary" soft drinks. Every can of coke, red bull, snapple, and any "fruit drink" not at least 70% real fruit juice all get a tax. Patterson is calling for the tax to combat obesity.

What a slippery slope this is. How long before we start taxing bacon? Peanut butter? (This could spell the end of peanut butter and bacon sandwiches!)

Patterson claims in recent interviews that we have to make up for budget shortfalls due to declining population in NYS and declining tax revenues from Wall Street. This is all true.

However, he's going about it all wrong. There are several easy ways to increase revenue:

Continue tax increases on "sin tax" items. In 2008 NY raised its taxes on cigarettes and that should keep increasing, IMO. I'm all for smokers rights, but that doesn't guarantee cheap cigarettes.

Also, increase taxes on alcohol purchases. NYS wine makers lobby to keep these taxes down, but alcohol should be taxed as aggressively as tobacco.

My strongest feelings are to increase the state sales tax. Increasing the tax by 1% would do wonders for the budget shortfall. People would bitch about it for awhile, but then would become accustomed to paying the additional tax and budget it into their daily lives.

I also would recommend raising the state tax on gasoline SUBSTANTIALLY. Raise it by 25 cents. People were paying $4.40+ just a few months ago. Now they are paying $1.65. Adding that 25 cents is almost negligible compared to the premium NYers paid in the past. If gas prices go up again, you can reduce the state tax to "help out the consumer" and look good doing it.

These fixes would generate almost all the financial needs for any reasonable state budget.

And if you want to talk gambling, consider these options:

Charge an extra 25 cents rake on lottery tickets. Would this hurt lottery sales? Nah.

Even better, legalize online poker in NYS (have a state run poker client), and watch the tax revenue roll in.

If Gov. Patterson is so outraged about child obesity, he should try to outlaw those unsavory soft drinks in schools, or just outlaw them to all minors.

I will not give up my bacon and peanut butter sandwiches!


lemoyneken said...

There's two sides to the equation and I don't think just adding taxes to raise revenues should be the major contributor. NY needs to reduce expenses. That means cut programs. It's a un re-electable position but the state needs to make substantial reductions in its programs. Also, NY state taxpayers have seen their salaries reduced, but government officials continue to get pay raises. There should be SUBSTANTIAL wage reductions among the state assembly and congress. Then, I'll be more willing to do my part in accepting tax increases.

Buffalo66 said...

Ken, I agree with you 100% in principle. However, the state budget does have significant spending cuts in it already.

It's true that the state officials do not have any decreased pay, but we both know that's never going to happen.