Faced with skyrocketing gas prices, property taxes, utility bills, food costs and college tuition expenses - on top of government's endless taxes, fees, surcharges and assessments - families are feeling the financial squeeze like never before. Every week seems to bring news that some daily staple, be it a gallon of gas, a bag of groceries or the monthly electric bill, is getting more expensive, while the paychecks of working New Yorkers are shrinking or staying flat.
During the 1970's, economists had a technical term for all this: "stagflation." Today, it's casually referred to as the "middle class squeeze." Of course, what New York's cost crunch is called is not nearly as important as how we can fix it. I believe we need sensible solutions that will put more money back in taxpayers' pockets and give families a little extra breathing room.
This week, I bring welcome news regarding the return of a sensible solution that will make your clothing and footwear budget go further: New York's State Sales Tax Exemption on certain items of clothing and footwear will be reinstated April 1. This is a great deal for families!
WELCOME BACK SAVINGS: STATE SALES TAX EXEMPTION RETURNS!
Beginning April 1, clothing and footwear costing under $110 per item will be exempt from the State Sales Tax of four percent. In addition, the return of the State Sales Tax Exemption means that local governments also can exempt their portion of taxes on clothing and footwear priced under $110. Typically, Local Sales Tax rates range anywhere from three to 4.75 percent.
SALES TAX EXEMPTION MEANS MORE MONEY IN YOUR POCKET
To better understand the money you will save when the State Sales Tax Exemption returns April 1, consider the savings on a pair of shoes costing $100. Prior to the April 1 reinstatement of the State Sales Tax Exemption, that pair of shoes cost $108 because of the four percent State Sales Tax and an average four percent Local Sales Tax added on to the final price. If you bought two pairs of shoes, you ended up paying an extra $16, all of it in State and Local Sales Taxes. None of the extra cost resulted in those shoes fitting any better or lasting any longer.
ALBANY ELIMINATED, THEN WATERED DOWN, SALES TAX EXEMPTION
It has not always been smooth sailing for the State's Sales Tax Exemption. For a time, the exemption - which had been in effect since April 1, 2006 and was a huge success - became the latest in a long line of casualties caused by Albany's culture of fiscal irresponsibility.
First, from October 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011, the State Sales Tax Exemption was eliminated. Then, from April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012, the Sales Tax Exemption was reinstated, but only for clothing and footwear costing less than $55. These actions were nothing more than cheap Albany budgeting gimmicks. As usual, Albany was attempting to balance the State Budget and close its annual deficits on the backs of hard-working taxpayers.
I opposed these proposals because they were bad public policy and even worse economics since neighboring states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania do not impose sales taxes on clothing and footwear, thus giving New York consumers more incentive to shop for these goods out-of-state. By reducing the State Sales Tax Exemption so it only covered items costing less than $55, Albany put New York's clothing and footwear retailers at a competitive disadvantage.
EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS
At first glance, the savings of four percent in State Taxes on clothing and footwear may not seem like a lot. However, as working families know, every little bit helps. Over the course of a year, the savings definitely add up, meaning more money for gas, groceries or something nice for the kids. Every extra dollar in taxpayers' pockets is one dollar less liberal Albany politicians and bureaucrats can waste. I support the State Sales Tax Exemption because it's a sensible solution that eases the "squeeze" on working families. It also forces Albany to become more fiscally responsible in its spending habits and stop trying to grab every dollar possible from taxpayers.
Starting April 1, millions of New Yorkers will be seeing relief from high taxes on clothing and footwear costing under $110. This is one sensible solution that can be appreciated by all smart shoppers!
As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic or any other state-related matter should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.