New Policies, Fees Enacted and ‘Swept Away’ with 2008-09 Budget

As has been reported, the 2008-09 budget imposes $1.5 billion in new fees and taxes on residents. In this column, I’d like to highlight for you some of the details of those fees and taxes people can, unfortunately, expect to see this year. I voted against much of the budget because of the tax and fee increases and the overall high rate of spending.

Credit Card Taxes: Out-of-state credit card companies, that conduct business in New York and are currently not taxed in New York because they don’t have a physical presence or nexus, will now be taxed. It is expected that these credit card companies will “pass along” their additional costs to the consumers and businesses that use these credit cards by increasing fees and interest rates. In-state credit card companies already pay New York state taxes and will not face increased taxes as a result. The Division of Budget estimates this law change will result in an additional $57 million in tax revenue.

Internet sales tax or Amazon tax: Out-of-state businesses that sell products over the Internet, through mail order, or other means, will now be required to collect sales tax on purchases made by New Yorkers. In-state businesses that sell products over the Internet are already required to collect sales tax. This will go into effect June 1. The Division of Budget estimates the state will see $50 million in additional tax revenue and $75 million next year.

Increase in cigarette tax: The total tax per pack will increase from $1.50 to $2.75. The state predicts a tax revenue increase by $265 million.

Crime surcharges: Criminal and traffic violators will now face an increase in the “Mandatory Surcharge.” For traffic violations that means those issued a ticket will have to pay an additional $20 and an additional $170 surcharge on drug and alcohol convictions.

The other component to this year’s budget that is unfortunate is the funds that have been “swept away” or taken from one specific fund and put into the state’s general budget. For example, the snowmobilers pay into a trail development and maintenance fund. About $1 million of fees collected from snowmobilers have gone into the general fund. I have signed a petition asking the governor to restore money to the Snowmobile Trail Development and Maintenance Fund.

Other fees have also been “swept away.” According to media reports, when pet owners buy licenses for their dogs and cats, they pay a $3 charge that is supposed to be used to pay for the spaying of pets owned by people who can’t afford to get them neutered. When property owners record a deed or mortgage for their property, they pay an extra $5 that is supposed to pay for the improved management of those records. When boaters register, they pay between $3 and $15 extra to fund boat-safety programs as well as to help maintain state facilities where they can launch them. In all of these cases, the state has “swept” these fees into the general budget to help pay for general budget expenses. As I’ve stated in the past, these unapproved misappropriations are why we need to reform the budget process.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at or by calling (315) 598-5185.