New Yorkers could soon face an additional tax simply for purchasing products online.
A newly proposed bill by Democrat Robert Carroll would add a $3 surcharge on packages delivered to New York residents, with an exception for medicine and food. The money, according to a summary on the New York State Assembly website, would be used to fund “the operating costs of buses and subways in the city of New York.”
The bill — first reported by NBC New York — was proposed the same week that Carroll and Transport Workers Union international president John Samuelsen penned an op-ed in the Daily News, suggesting that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority needs more than a federal bailout to survive the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. (A forecast from the MTA pegs its deficit through 2024 at $16.2 billion.)
“There is one option that would raise more than $1 billion a year for the city’s subway and bus system — while also supporting small businesses and protecting the environment: a $3 surcharge on packages ordered online for delivery in New York City, excluding those with medicine or food,” they wrote.
What’s more, Carroll and Samuelsen explained that the tax could incentivize New Yorkers to patronize small businesses and local shops instead of massive corporations like Amazon, Walmart and eBay.
“A delivery surcharge will also undoubtedly encourage consumers, and the Amazons of the world, to more regularly consolidate multiple items into a single package for delivery,” they added. “Instead of shipping someone a pair of new sneakers on Monday, a pair of socks on Wednesday and a toaster oven on Friday, Amazon could put them into one box and (gasp) make you wait a little. That’s one truck trip down your block by FedEx or UPS instead of three. Now multiply that by millions.”
According to the op-ed, an estimated 1.8 million packages on average are delivered each day to apartments and homes in the city. In addition, the Department of Commerce reported a 36% gain to $209.5 billion in e-commerce sales during the third quarter. As the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise in major metropolitan cities, including New York, experts have suggested that more consumers will flock to digital channels and rely on essential retailers such as Amazon and Walmart to stockpile supplies.