By Rory Cooper
Starting next summer, New Yorkers will get hit with a tax that is hard to believe even in the already overly-taxed metropolis of Manhattan. Firefighters will begin charging accident victims for their emergency services to the tune of hundreds of dollars, even if the victim was not at fault.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s (I) newest tax would charge residents $490 for a car fire or accident with injury, $415 for a car fire without injury and $365 for any vehicle accident without injury. (New Yorkers must be relieved to know that they get $50 discount for not being injured!)
Beyond the economic absurdity it is very obvious why this tax is such a bad deal. It discourages victims from reporting accidents, and even fires, and if reported, discourages victims from acknowledging injuries which may be life-threatening.
Some call it the “Crash Tax” but that unfairly presents the “event” itself as being taxed, as opposed to the victim. Words and integrity matter, and Mayor Bloomberg should be honest about who is paying the bill for the city’s fiscal incompetence.
Emergency services are a basic function of governance. The case could be made that those who drive recklessly or are repeatedly cited offenders could be deterred by a fee of some sort or increased citation fines. But this across-the-board tax is not designed for public safety, but rather to pay for out-of-control government spending.
Mayor Bloomberg has long proven himself to be a cheerleader for tax hikes and big-government interventions. Earlier this year, Bloomberg proposed taxing sugar drinks a penny an ounce since the Mayor takes issue with any city resident enjoying a Coca-Cola.
But his latest Victim Tax is a new low. It’s hard to contemplate how the FDNY will collect their new taxes. Will brave firefighters now have to carry around a credit card machine? Will the heroes of September 11 be forced to consider someone’s economic viability before responding to an emergency? Firefighters should not be put in this position, nor should their jobs be made harder by discouraging prompt and smart calls of distress.
New York City residents already hand over more than half of their paycheck to Empire State tax collectors for combined federal, state and city taxes. Any visitor to Manhattan knows the cost of the city’s exorbitant hotel taxes that discourage tourism. You also have the highest-in-the-nation cigarette tax, the banking corporation tax, the commercial motor vehicle tax, the commercial rent tax, the cell phone tax, the general corporation tax, the horse race admissions tax, the mortgage recording tax, the taxicab license tax, utility taxes, retail taxes and so on.
Mayor Bloomberg is facing a $4.5 billion budget deficit next year. This fiscal irresponsibility should not be put on the backs of those needing medical attention from heroic first responders.