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Killer Taxes

TimesLedger Newspapers

Two taxes that have been slamming the average New Yorker need to be reined in. Both taxes make consumers pay a heavy, unreasonable price for what have become routine activities in modern life.

The first is the gas tax. It’s no secret to city residents that they are paying a great deal more per gallon than drivers in New Jersey — and that’s true in part because the city gas tax is based on a percentage per gallon.

State Sen. Tony Avella has introduced legislation that would change the city-imposed tax on gasoline and diesel fuels to a flat tax. It would stay the same no matter what happens to gas prices.

In 2006, the state gave the city permission to change from a flat rate to a percentage rate. If Avella’s legislation gets passed, the trip to the gas pump will still be painful, but it will help.

The second tax is even more unfair. New Yorkers pay the third-highest tax in the nation for the privilege of using their cell phones. The tax on cell phone service in New York state is more than 23 percent, three times the tax for the purchase of consumer items.

We suspect many cell phone users don’t even realize how much of their monthly bill is going to taxes. They just know the cost is staggering.

Cell phones are not a luxury. Today 300 million Americans carry a cell phone and 30 percent of all homes in America are now wireless.

Last year, a Wireless Tax Fairness Act was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. A similar bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate with bipartisan support this year. The legislation was designed to “mitigate the discriminatory tax drain on mobile consumers.”

Rather than taxing cell phone use to death, the government should be supportive of an industry that continues to create thousands of jobs. According to a recent report, wireless networks created 1.5 million new jobs between 2007 and 2011. That’s at a time when overall unemployment reached record levels.

Both the cell phone taxes and the city’s gas tax are excessive and abusive and need to be reduced to reasonable rates.

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