LONG ISLAND CITY, Queens (PIX11) — Wednesday was the first of more than 180 days where some of New York State’s tax on gasoline has been suspended, but some tax policy analysts say that the tax suspension might do more harm than good.
The change, which reduces the cost of a gallon of gas by at least 16 cents per gallon, took many car owners by surprise. They hadn’t heard about the taxation change.
The suspension runs from June 1 through Dec. 31, and while most gas stations complied with the price change on Wednesday, it still took time. PIX11 observed one gas station in Garden City, Long Island changing its prices to reflect the tax reduction on Wednesday afternoon. In other words, even though the tax suspension had been ordered to take effect at midnight, anyone who’d purchased gas all morning was still paying the tax.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said that it will be up to gas stations to comply in the next few days.
“It goes into effect pursuant to state and county law today,” he said at a news conference. “So it’ll take a few days to get there, but hopefully by the end of the weekend.”
Nassau and Suffolk Counties, on Long Island, were among a variety of New York counties that chose to also suspend their local gas taxes.
At gas stations across Long Island, price-per-gallon signs were changed on both the marquee signs and on the signs above each gas pump.
The Long Island local tax suspensions, when combined with the state tax reduction, resulted in prices being 25 cents to 26 cents lower, per gallon. In the five boroughs, the reduction was the state level of 16 cents.
It still took many motorists by surprise.
“I never knew that,” said one driver, who only gave his first name, Christian.
Another motorist, Joon Jun, who was filling up at a BP station in Long Island City, said that he had mixed feelings about the tax suspension, since he travels far more on public transportation than by car.
In fact, the gas tax pays for more than three percent of the MTA’s budget to maintain and improve the subway, Long Island Railroad, and MetroNorth commuter rail.
Since a majority of New York City residents use mass transit, a variety of tax policy analysts, including Jared Walczak of the Tax Foundation say that the new change is more harmful than helpful. It reduces funding for maintenance of roadways and transit systems.
The gas tax, said Walczak, serves a public purpose.
“Drivers are paying for the wear and tear that they put on roads, and the maintenance that has to be done, roughly commensurate with their use of those roads,” he said in an interview.
“The gas tax is one of the more efficient taxes out there,” he continued. “So we’re severing that really important link, and even if it’s just a temporary thing, that’s an issue.”