Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Plastic bag fee nixed by Quinn

From the NY Times:

The Bloomberg administration has backed down on a plan to charge a 5-cent fee on plastic shopping bags and to add sales tax on all clothing purchases as part of a budget agreement reached with the City Council on Monday night, aides said.

To close a gap of about $1 billion in next year’s budget, Mr. Bloomberg and the Council have instead proposed increasing the city’s sales tax by half a percentage point, to 8.875 percent. In addition, the city would begin charging sales tax on clothing over $110. All clothing was previously exempt from such taxes.

A typical household in New York City making $35,000 a year would have to pay an extra $74 a year in sales taxes, clothing included, according to estimates by the city’s Independent Budget Office. A household making $125,000 would pay an additional $237 a year, and one making $500,000 would pay $687 more.

The budget agreement represents a significant victory for the Council and its leader, Speaker Christine C. Quinn, who vigorously opposed the plastic bag fee and sales tax on clothing under $110.


Wow, she stood up to the mayor for once...

Photo from Daily News

71 comments:

Anonymous said...

How could a 'typical' NYC household live on $35k a year? Fried bologna sammitches anyone? No cheese until the gubmint starts passin out more cheese bricks again.

G said...

I was actually supporting the proposition...I do wonder if quinn was pressured or "enlightened" by the plastic industry's propaganda.

---

and to the "gubmint" $35,000 is more than enough for a person to live on...in fact...that amount is enough for a family of seven to be considered over the poverty limit.

http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/09poverty.shtml

somebody say something about bricks of cheese?

georgetheatheist said...

If this had passed, you would have been wearing plastic bags for clothing. Up, up, up, now the NY Times costs 2 bucks. This is insane.

georgetheatheist said...

And a slice of pizza - pizza! - is pushing $2.50.

Anonymous said...

I just wish Quinn and Bloomberg would put these plastic bags over their heads and put us out of our misery...

Erik Baard said...

The plastic bag tax would have been an intelligent move. Quinn is disappointing me on both environmental and animal rights fronts.

As far as clothing, swaps and textile recycling should be encouraged somehow (Lynne Serpe is way ahead of me on this score) but I still think taxing inexpensive clothing hits working families needlessly hard.

Anonymous said...

A NYC family of SEVEN can live on 35k???? Do you really argue that??

Anonymous said...

I live on 35K a year when I work, and on less now while I am looking. That is why many of us need rent control or stabilization, no matter how unfair it seems to be to the landlords.

It is just as unfair to not pay people enough to live and then cry when you cannot make more money off them.

Anonymous said...

Quinn's daddy should have worn a small plastic (or rubber) bag over his dick before he had sex with her mommy!

Anonymous said...

Too bad. The plastic bag tax would have been a great step forward.

Sarah said...

Look, any tax that targets the working poor the most is just insane. They are Mayor and the Leader are both out of touch with the average NYer. Most taxes are passed along to the person on the bottom that cannot pass it down any further. Those who are the poorest and those on fixed incomes. This seems like the easy way out for these politicians and a sad day for those who can least afford another bite out of their budget. If I was the Mayor the first place I would look is at the bloated bureaucrats at the top of all these departments and my own dozens of deputy persons surrounding me. I am sure I could find a hundred million in salary cuts.It's funny but Bloomberg never proposes a user tax on his information systems that every broker needs and has tripled his fortune in 8 years, funny isnt it.

Anonymous said...

The plastic bag tax would only be fair if they amended the shoplifting law. If you bring your own bags as they do in Europe and put one item in before it is rung up, you can be arrested.

Furthermore, all the supermarkets have new gadgets where you check yourself out, and the plastic bags are part of the scales they use to keep you honest.

Anonymous said...

F--k the plastic and super-tax Bloomberg and his millionaire/billionaire real estate pals!

Anonymous said...

Uh...duh...I fill my shopping cart and then transfer my ALREADY PAID FOR items into cloth bags to carry them out.

That can't be misconstrued as shoplifting by anyone!

In France consumers have used woven net shopping bags since the 1970s.

The store clerk can see through them...no?

I still have one that a friend brought me back from Paris.

Anonymous said...

Quinn took her cues (and some money, no doubt) from the petro-chemical lobby!

Anonymous said...

"Benjamin...a word of advice...plastics"!

From "The Graduate".

Anonymous said...

Alot of countries don't allow plastic bags to be used at grocery stores

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Yeah, ever since becoming Bloomberg's stooge last fall for term limits, she's been trying to prove she's her own person. What a charade. She's bought and paid for.

One billion, huh? Doesn't Bloomberg have an extra billion he could donate for the sake of the city he loves so much.

Anonymous said...

You don't have to worry about the clerk seeing through them. Put it in the net bag and you'll be netted. I mentioned the shoplifting law because a German friend ran afoul of it, so this does happen.

By the way, what about my larger point about the trend towards self-service? If your bag causes the stores to have to hire a clerk, better that the earth should die instead. God forbid anyone should make a living.

georgetheatheist said...

"...what about my larger point..."

Perhaps no one addresses it because you hide under the cloak of anonymity.

Frank said...

I've been bringing my own cloth bags to the supermarket for the last few years. Some places offer a few cents off per bag for doing so. Unfortunately that's not enough of an incentive for the chronic double and triple bagers. Maybe this tax would have been.

The fact is that plastic bags take generations to biodegrade. Even so-called biodegradable plastics have plastic strips in them that will still last for millennia. Is that worth the half hour it takes you to get your food home?

I'm tired of hearing the dog-shit excuse. Holding a biodegradable substance (dog shit) in a non-biodegradable substance (plastic bag) is NOT recycling. I'd suggest using paper bags.

As for the shoplifting excuse: I've NEVER had a problem with being accused of shoplifting. I just don't put anything in the bags until they've been checked out. In fact, most checkout clerks are happy that I've brought my own bags.

The bottom line is that this tax is cheaply avoidable and provides an incentive for consumers to stop being lazy and start making changes to improve the environment and lessen our reliance on foreign oil. Buy your own cloth bags (they're usually very inexpensive) and bring them to the store with you. They make bags that, when folded, are no larger than a cell phone so it's easy to always have one with you for impulse buys.

italian girl said...

I freaking LOVE plastic bags!! In fact, I always take extra because I use it for my cats' poop.

Taxpayer said...

We already pay a tax on those plastic bags.

Nothing in any grocery store is free. Nothing. Not even the flyers.

The price of everything in the store - lighting, shelves, alarm system, plastic bags, sale posters in the windows - are included into the price of every grocery item for sale.

We pay tax on the total purchase - and that includes the PURCHASE by us of each plastic bag, and all other costs paid by the store.

Commissar Death and Taxes already knew that, but wanted an additional tax to be paid by us.

Screw him and his obsessive loathing of the middle class.

Let's screw him on November 3.

Anonymous said...

A fee on all mechandise items costing 20K & up excluding vehicules under 30K should be tax a luxury tax. Any income earned by a single individual above 200k should be taxed an additional 25% and including resturant tabs over $200 for a single diner. In the same token those who earn under 90K for a family of 3 will have a reduced tax of -15%.

TaxedtotheMax in Glendale said...

Good point there that we are already paying. There is no free breakfast, as they say.
Let us design a few taxes on the wealthy:restaurant tax; limousine tax; Broadway/Lincoln Center tax; clothing OVER a certain amount, not under; Escort tax (Spitzer). Hell I do not even know what else they get, I am middle.

Anonymous said...

The wealthy already pay by far the huge majority of taxes. Stop whining about measures to help the environment. You think that because you are "middle class" you should be able to live wastefully?

Anonymous said...

Pretty funny, taxed to the max. And you make a good point. The bag tax and sales tax on clothing are pretty regressive, as are the increases in transit fares.

One reason America is going to hell on a sled is that we are trying to fund the country on the backs of the poor and the broke.

It's true that the low income pay very little income tax, but they are walloped disproportionately for everything else including sales tax, use fees in parks, registration fees, even social security taxes (they pay to the last dollar of income, while it phases out at some point for high income earners).

Anonymous said...

Quinn chose the wrong issue on which to exert her independence. Plastic bags are a scourge, and should be taxed out of existence. (The clerk, by the way, can still fill cloth bags. So no jobs need be sacrificed.)

Anonymous said...

And a slice of pizza - pizza! - is pushing $2.50.

In queens, downtown it's over $3!

Anonymous said...

I live on 35K a year when I work, and on less now while I am looking. That is why many of us need rent control or stabilization, no matter how unfair it seems to be to the landlords.

It is just as unfair to not pay people enough to live and then cry when you cannot make more money off them.

Want to pay less rent? pay a market rate rent, not a controlled rent. that's why Boston is so friendly a place to live. even that socialist megalopolis dumped rent control years ago.

Anonymous said...

I freaking LOVE plastic bags!! In fact, I always take extra because I use it for my cats' poop.

That's a taz waiting to happen that i would support - a pet tax! Why should I have to step in dog crap b/c some dopey rude selfish owner is too lazy or spiteful to pick it up? There's no right to have pets and they spread germs and are filthy and non-pet owners wind up paying more in sanatation, etc. Tax the dogs and cats!

Anonymous said...

Sales taxes are not regressive. That is a misnomer. Everyone pays the same rate, which is fair. If wealthier people buy more expensive items they pay more tax.

One problem with this country is that not enough people pay taxes. Since half the country doesn't pay income taxes, they can push for more and more government because they know they won't have to pay any more for it. People would be more responsible if they paid taxes.

Anonymous said...

"There's no right to have pets..."


A right to have pets? Is this the mindset of the average American these days? You have to have your rights TOLD to you, at someone else choosing?

This country was founded on the idea that its citizens were given near complete freedom, and didn't have to seek permission for everything they do. Its sad.

Anonymous said...

If wealthier people buy more expensive items they pay more tax.


Unless you pay CASH!

FlatBroke in Glendale said...

The cost falls disproportionately on the middle class. Look at your paycheck stub. The deduction for medical--it is the same rate for you and your boss; but percentage-wise, you pay more. The same follows one after another.You pay the same Tranitchek deduction for amonthly commute. But you are paying a greater percentage of your income. It follows beyond your job. The pay that goes out for general costs is eaten up quickly. The wealthier have the same basic costs, yet then afterwards, they have $ leftover. A parking ticket hurts; so does a property tax hike, or water rate hike. Every little tax eats us up, leaving us flat broke. And, they find all kinds of tax writeoffs.

Erik Baard said...

The bag tax isn't regressive. It's more akin to the "sin tax" on tobacco and alcohol. It's purpose isn't to close the budget gap but to make users pay for the full burden (in this case, ecological) of their poor decisions.

faster340 said...

"It's purpose isn't to close the budget gap but to make users pay for the full burden (in this case, ecological) of their poor decisions."

And up until this recent "Green" fad these were for the most part the only bags present in the supermarkets and stores. So if it's the only thing being offered why should the "users" pay for it? The "users" are actually the stores and supermarkets because they are a cheaper alternative to paper and cut down their overhead, in effect giving consumers no choice in the matter. But now they want to propose that the general public pay for it and not the stores who are the actual "users"...

All this plastic crap is based on petroleum products controlled by big government and corporations to make more profit. This in turn helped produce these bags for smaller corporations to cut down their costs and increase their profits and now the public should have to pay for it? That's crap!!!

I am glad this fee got canned.

Anonymous said...

Plastic bags are a bad habit--easily breakable. My lovely wife (whom I love) and I have gotten into the canvas bag habit and it is good. You realize how bad this stufff is once you get away from it. Forthe sae of our children go canvas (and compost!)We shop at Trader Joe's and fill out a ticket for a drawing--smart move Giuseppe. [Is Joe going out of biz in Forest Hills, the shelves are empty for days?]

Anonymous said...

RE Pizza at $2.50. Interesting study done years ago - there is a very close correlation between the price of a slice, and the subway fare - not causation, but a slice has always been about the price of the subway fare

RE Tax over 20K, Tax over 200K etc - ask Maryland how well the Millionare tax worked out. Last year, there was something like 2000 people who earned 1 million/year or more. They decided to balance their budget by heavily rasing the taxes on them. Guess what, there was less than 500 this year - and they looked, something like 1000 of those people aren't residents of Maryland anymore (aka it's not the economy). People with extremely high incomes are highly mobile - let's take Bloomturd as an example (except for his job as Mayor). How hard would it be for him to move to his place in the Bahamas or Britian? Or buy a place back in MA? How hard to open your fancy resturant in Hoboken so folks avoid the tax on $200 meals

People WILL change their behavior based upon what you do, only it may not be what you expect.

Take the 5 cent bag tax. I currently drive about 15 minutes north of my house to get to the big Waldbaums in Bay Terrace. Now, in 15 Minutes, I can be in Nassau, where the stores tend to offer double coupons anyway, and I wouldn't have to pay the bag fee. I could then save money by shopping in Nassau, and NY City loses the money.

I know there are 1-2 other laws being proposed on the state level that have me rethinking NY residency. It's fine, I'll move where the state wants me, and doesn't insult me. My business can be done remotely. My clients don't care where I live. I can bill the same hourly rate, and now that my parents are dead (My reason for staying in NYC), I have no reason to stay here except my wife and kids attachment to living here. When the problems outweigh the benefit - bye

Wade Nichols said...

The wealthy already pay by far the huge majority of taxes. Stop whining about measures to help the environment. You think that because you are "middle class" you should be able to live wastefully?

Want to pay less rent? pay a market rate rent, not a controlled rent. that's why Boston is so friendly a place to live. even that socialist megalopolis dumped rent control years ago.

One problem with this country is that not enough people pay taxes. Since half the country doesn't pay income taxes, they can push for more and more government because they know they won't have to pay any more for it. People would be more responsible if they paid taxes.

This country was founded on the idea that its citizens were given near complete freedom, and didn't have to seek permission for everything they do. Its sad.

People WILL change their behavior based upon what you do, only it may not be what you expect
These are some great comments, are they all by the same person?

C'mon, sign your name, or at least make up a phoney name so we can distinguish you, and give you the credit you're due!

How about: "Deke DaSilva"?

Wade Nichols said...

That photo of those two holding up plastic bags looks like something straight out of the "Stuff White People Like" web site!

Mr. Angry said...

Bring back paper bags. For the eco friendly it's that simple.

Tax the stores for the bags, not the people, who are barely making ends meet these days.

Anonymous said...

Hey Broke in Glendale, go cry me a river. If I get the same services as you, why should I pay more? You pay based on the service you receive, not based on a percentage of how much money you make. Your way would just disincentivize work.

Anonymous said...

Whoever thinks sales taxes are not regressive failed economics 101 in high school. They are the classic regressive tax. Of course, the rich person and the poor person may pay say the same percentage on food, gas whatever.

But the 5% is on a larger portion of the person's income. In other words, 75% or 80% of the poor person's wages may have to be spent on basic living expenses, and 5% of that is taxed.

For the wealthy person, basic living expenses may be 10% of income, 90% of the income is available for optional spending or savings.

For every $1000 dollars earned by the poor person, $800 may be spent on basic living expenses, $40.00 taxed.

For every $1000 dollars earned by the rich person, $100.00 spent, $5.00 taxed.

This is not a "misnomer" or rather "misconception" but basic math. If you disbelieve this, ask whether it would be easier for you or Rockefeller to save an extra million or two.

KG2V said...

People WILL change their behavior based upon what you do, only it may not be what you expect


These are some great comments, are they all by the same person?

No - this one was me, the rest were not

Anonymous said...

This tax would have hurt the working poor, while new condo dwellers can still revel in their tax abatements.

Anonymous said...

$35K - "that amount is enough for a family of seven to be considered over the poverty limit."

It is a government stat so you automatically subscribe to it? And the chart you linked to is all-inclusive of the 48 contiguous states. Did you ever notice that it costs just a tad bit more to live in NYC than it does in Bumfart Arkansas?

Anonymous said...

Re: Rent Stablization Boston

KNOW YOUR FACTS - THE MAYOR OF BOSTON HAS BEEN BEGGING TO HAVE IT REINSTATED.

Anonymous said...

"Whoever thinks sales taxes are not regressive failed economics 101 in high school. They are the classic regressive tax. Of course, the rich person and the poor person may pay say the same percentage on food, gas whatever."

I wont re-post what has already been said but I'd like to see the argument against that post

Anonymous said...

You can make plastic type bags out of weeds, but you might want to talk to the oil and chemical industry on that one. Monsanto anyone or Chevron Standard Bp oil? We need strong bags for pet waste and bad household\office cleaning waste.
Sorta ironic inst it? The same fools that want to regulate bags and tax us for them maybe, are the same people connected to big oil and the many facets of the chemical industry. During Bush and Clinton years executives from pharma and Bio chemical laden foods went back and forth from the FDA to their old companies like ADM and Monsanto.

Anonymous said...

This plastic bag tax was never about the environment. It is a stalking horse for raising additional taxes from the poor and working class in a politically-correct way.

Ironically, the self-interest of supermarkets who want to use automation to bag groceries probably defeated it.

If you really want to cut waste, consider dropping the use of oil in everything you do.

That includes using less commercial fertilizer in your gardens and composting.

Please see "The Omnivores Dilemma" for an explanation of the Haber Cycle and how oil is turned into nitrogenous fertilizer.

If you have a small garden, consider adding some dwarf fruit trees, vegetables or herbs.

The rich are killing us, and we are handing them the loaded gun to do it.

Anonymous said...

Calling a sales tax a regressive tax is a social liberal trick. It is a fixed rate tax, based on usage. It doesn't change based on income. A regressive tax would be one that is reduced based on higher income. You can say that Social Security is regressive because it stops at a higher income level.

KG2V said...

RE Sales tax regressive or not

Clearly the tax itself is NOT "regressive", however, it CAN be said that the tax has the effect of being regressive

For that matter, we can say that a tax on say Cigarettes is regressive, because more poor people smoke, but you won't hear that claimed

It _IS_ a typical social trick to call any flat tax that folks don't like "regressive" (and I'll agree that Social Security is regressive. It was designed that way because not only is there a cap for what you can put in, but a cap for what you can take out)

Anonymous said...

Lets have a yacht tax! Its certainly not progressive or regressive. Affects all yacht purchasers equally.

Anonymous said...

That sales tax is regressive is beyond a doubt. I went over the mathematics and the numbers are indisputable.

I even used the example of 5% because it is easy for you to calculate in your head. The real number is higher.

Please note that any standard economics text will also tell you that this is a regressive tax.

A true proportional tax would be the traditional church tithe where the first 10% of total income is dedicated to charity. I doubt many of you are tithing.

As far as the cigarette tax example goes, it is indeed regressive, not because poor people smoke more, but because a wealthy person smoking the same number of cigarettes pays the tax on a much lower percentage of income.

If you continue to argue this point, you will prove your inability to work with multiplication and percentages.

This innumeracy, alas, knows no political bounds and is an excellent reason for the current credit meltdown.

Anonymous said...

the tax ITSELF is not regressive - it's EFFECT is regressive, because of the "spends less" effect - the tax itself is flat - All you show in your math is a regressive effect - not a regressive TAX

Broke in Glendale and beyond said...

Broke in Glendale here. Sorry to piss you off there, Mr A. and I was not clear as I could have been.
The point is we are seeing unprecedented increases in so mnay things that touch our everyday lives--be it in fares, fees, our everyday bills, and the necessities, and yes extras, of everyday life.

We feel these and we KNOW something in the economy is off kilter.

The wealthier do NOT feel these effects and do not know something is off kilter--yet.

We middles are the canaries in the coal mine. Raising the red flag here. We are in dire straits. There are no brakes on these creeping costs and on the overall skidding economy. The system is broken and we are broke. Thx.

Anonymous said...

Glendale - stop feeling sorry for yourself. Rents are coming down.

Anonymous said...

You just don't understand economics. Take it from someone who graduated at the top of his class with an Economics degree, the tax is not regressive. Its effect may be, but it also may not because higher income people also buy higher priced items and thus pay more sales tax.
Regardless of what you want to call it, you still haven't stated any good reason why it is unfair.

Anonymous said...

"the tax ITSELF is not regressive - it's EFFECT is regressive, because of the "spends less" effect - the tax itself is flat - All you show in your math is a regressive effect - not a regressive TAX"

I dont care if you are Milton Friedman. You continually make a distinction without a difference and contribute nothing to the argument.

Anonymous said...

"Regardless of what you want to call it, you still haven't stated any good reason why it is unfair."

There is nothing illogical about faulting a tax bc it has a disparate effect on a particular class of people. Did they teach you in your ecomnomics classes that people with lower incomes spend a much greater portion of their income on necessities? STop your whining and hypervenitlating about whether a tax which has a regressive effect is a regressive tax or not. It is a silly exercise.

Anonymous said...

You still have given no reason why it is unfair. You say it has a disparate impact (debatable) and that poorer people spend more on necessities (irrelevant). You must believe in spreading the wealth and taking from those who work harder or have skills to produce more and handing it to those who don't.

Anonymous said...

"You must believe in spreading the wealth and taking from those who work harder or have skills to produce more and handing it to those who don't."

What an arrogant pompus presumption from the pocket protector class. Forgive me, a member of the pocket protector class who got an A in one of those soft science classes.

Btw, why not a yacht tax? It would be fair.

Anonymous said...

Never mind the plastic bag crap....Chinese take out spots used to use cardboard containers.

NOW EVERYTHING GOES OUT IN HEAVY DUTY PLASTIC OR ALUMINUM!

I hope they're not made in China).

Anonymous said...

Even worse...plastic siding on houses off-gases toxic fumes and has an unmeasurable half life!

Let's face it...
America is addicted to plastic!

So those 1 mil supermarket plastic bags are small potatoes!

P.S.

We used to use steel (or brass or wood and other biodegradable stuff) for cameras, electronic component cases, office equipment, storage containers, chairs, tables, strollers, etc.

It's easier to injection mold plastic than to make a set of stamping dies.

But this also puts skilled people (like die makers etc.) out of work.

I'm afraid our grandchildren will be living on a plastic poisoned Earth...like it or not!

But I guess by then we will have inhabited other planets and eventually foul them too!

Anonymous said...

There already is a luxury tax that applies to yachts.

Anonymous said...

"Yacht owners enjoying a huge perk -- tax breaks
Law allows wealthy to write off pricey purchases in several ways

By ERIC NALDER
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER

One grateful local yacht owner calls it a federal subsidy: Several tax dodges, ranging from perfectly legal to dubious, are helping wealthy owners keep their big pleasure boats on the water, in Puget Sound and across the country.


RELATED STORIES
- Buyers defend deductions, saying they help create jobs
- Small and large companies use boat write-offs

Some ultra-rich yacht buyers are expecting to deduct millions from their income tax next year by depreciating their pleasure craft under the provisions of the Bush administration's tax-relief program passed by Congress in 2003. About 500,000 boat owners nationwide can decrease their income-tax bill every year by declaring their vessels a second home. Some others collect healthy deductions from putting their boats into charter arrangements that may skirt the provisions of the tax code. And some corporations take deductions on yachts that seem to stretch the definition of a business resource."

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/198998_boats10.html

Anonymous said...

Well, now you know why they are rich. No sooner do you plug one loophole, but they come up with another.

Anonymous said...

If a tax were to be imposed on limiting plastic bags by taxing consumers, then this was the wrong approach. What should have been, now a lost opportunity to make an impact, was to ban the flimsy plastic bags, replace by paper bags. Some merchants will give them away and some will chage the consumer a fee 5 or 10 cents if they wish to purchase a paper bag - a choice and a good solution for everyone right?

Anonymous said...

What a couple!

Anonymous said...

They won't do that because stores have invested millions of dollars in automated self-service checkouts and the plastic bags work with the weighing equipment, the paper does not.

Why should a store want to pay the wages of several extra clerks? This is very expensive. That is why this bill went down

The customers would have started lining up at the checkout registers with their own bags, and the stores would have faced additional labor charges.

Only the poorest people who duck in to the store to buy a few items and forget to bring their bags would have been dinged, and that's just the way the city likes it.