Saturday, August 15, 2009

Beverage Tax is Here

The limbo status of the state's expanded bottle bill got somewhat clarified when a federal judge ruled that aspects of the legislation, that had previously been enjoined, could go into effect immediately: "New York State can start collecting tens of millions of dollars in unclaimed bottle and can deposits now that a federal judge has allowed some provisions of a new law to take effect."

Which means get ready for higher beverage prices, as soda and beer distributors jack them up so that they can make up for what the state will escheat; and as soon as the water issues are resolved, the cost of a case of Poland Springs will jump at least three dollars: "On Thursday, Judge Deborah A. Batts of the United States District Court in Manhattan allowed enforcement of some provisions of the law, and she scheduled a hearing for Oct. 22 on the question of deposits on water bottles. Among the restored provisions is a requirement that beverage companies give 80 percent of the nickel deposits that are not claimed by consumers to the state, instead of keeping the money."

And if you think this all stinks-another environmental measure that masquerades as a tax-than the smell wafting through your nostrils should be called, "Eau de Enck," since Judy the Frog is the prime mover of this levy: "Judith Enck, the state’s deputy secretary for the environment, estimated the ruling would amount to at least $86 million in income each year. “We really need it because we have a $2 billion deficit in the state,” she said."

It is, however, unlikely that the water provisions will be implemented immediately after the October hearing-our estimate is by the first of the year. But, considering the cost to beverage consumers, the AG should be leery of taking a victory lap: "The Court's decision yesterday will allow essential, long-overdue updates to the Bottle Bill to finally take effect," Cuomo said in a statement. "Our victory will ensure that the most critical elements of the Bill move forward expeditiously, resulting not only in cleaner communities and new, green jobs but also in over $100 million in added revenue for New York State."

Why do all these pols see pickpocketing the tax payers only in terms of, "revenue to the state?" Make no mistake about it, the expanded bill will be a further burden on city food stores-and another item on the state's deficit ledger that will further contribute to making New York the worst place to do business in the entire country.