I did a column last Sunday on paying the state $59 to register my already registered car, with the county adding another $20 for a useless "Use Tax."
I asked readers to e-mail me their tales of ridiculous taxes, fees and surcharges encountered in this, the highest state/local tax region in the nation. My e-mail inbox overflowed. Let the venting begin!
Mr. Esmonde: My family's company pays $50 a year for the "privilege" of collecting sales tax FOR THE STATE! -- C.K.
Dear C.K. -- They ought to pay you a fee. Which they then could tax.
Mr. Esmonde: How is this for highway robbery? I got a $50 fine in Tonawanda Town Court for a seat belt violation -- plus an $85 state surcharge! -- C.H., Buffalo.
Dear C.H. -- And they weren't even wearing hoodies and ski masks!
Mr. Esmonde: My latest auto insurance bill had a Plus NYS Law Enforcement fee of $5. I checked and found out the money is turned over to the state for [law enforcement]. I thought that our taxes paid for police protection. -- G.D., Orchard Park
Dear G.D. -- Haven't you noticed how much better the law enforcement is since they started collecting this fee?
Mr. Esmonde: My previous residence was in South Carolina. The maximum tax there on new car purchase is $300. I purchased a $30,000 car in Buffalo with a sales tax of $2,625. The average car is probably bought and sold at least three times, with the 8.75 percent tax applied each time. -- J.G.
Dear J.G. -- Charleston never looked so good!
Mr. Esmonde: What annoys me is the $2 fee added to my National Fuel bill each month for processing the invoice Charging us in order to charge us. When I inquired about it, National Fuel's answer was simply, "New York State says we can." -- W.B., Kenmore.
Dear W.B. -- Our fee-happy state approves the practice of customer-gouging by our fee-happy public utility. It brings to mind the expression, "As thick as thieves."
Mr. Esmonde: I worked several double-shifts this week and lost track of alternate side of the street parking. The ticket is for $30. It seems that my parking is a more pressing matter [to the city] than removing the hookers from the corners of Grant Street [or] the people on my sidewalk smoking marijuana and drinking. -- C.D., Buffalo
Dear C.D. -- You forget the two magic words at City Hall: Revenue stream. Besides, the city needs the alternate-side parking so plows can get through. Oh, I forgot, it's June!
Mr. Esmonde: I have a Verizon land line. My calls rarely exceed $2. My bill is usually $37! Charges include federal tax (76 cents), NYS/Local tax ($2.89), 911 surcharge (35 cents), USF surcharge (98 cents), FCC charge ($6.41) and $15.80 for DIAL TONE! I would cancel that, but then how would I know my phone is working? -- SMB, Cheektowaga.
Dear SMB -- If it's any consolation, a dial tone is preferable to some of the phone conversations I've had.
Mr. Esmonde: I drove to Florida recently and noticed that most states do not require front license plates. New York could save some money by cutting these out. -- C.R.
Dear C.R. -- Great idea, but you must be new around here. The whole idea in New York is to gouge taxpayers, not to save money!