There's no doubt that New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority is in crisis, but a newly proposed solution to the lack of funds from state assemblyman Robert Carroll has New Yorkers up in arms. Carroll has put forward a proposal that would tack on a three dollar surcharge onto packages delivered in the city as a way to make up for the MTA's massive deficits.
Carroll pitched his new tax on all packages exempting medicine and food in an op-ed for the New York Daily News. He painted a grim picture of the MTA's finances, noting a projected $16.2 billion deficit in the budget of the city's public transit agency by 2024. Carroll hopes that the new source of funding would help solve some of these woes while encouraging conscious consumption and local shopping among New York City residents.
"We do not have to endure savage service cuts and the slashing of day-to-day maintenance. We do not have to accept as inevitable the laying off of thousands of transit workers who have already endured and sacrificed so much keeping NYC moving, and functioning, during this deadly pandemic," he wrote.
While Carroll's solution seems like a net positive if taken on its own terms (fund the MTA, support small business, reduce emissions), the regressive tax on deliveries drew the ire of New York citizens. The city contains vast swaths of empty, billionaire-owned housing and is the financial center of the most prosperous country on Earth. If new tax revenue is needed to fund the circulatory system of the global capital, it can more easily be found in global capital. The reserves of money to be taxed are much larger in the coffers of international banks than in the pockets of regular citizens. (And those are just the criticisms before you come to the deadly pandemic that makes casual shopping a bad idea).
The fact that the pandemic has been a boon for billionaires was not missed by the New Yorkers who would carry the cost of this proposal. Amazon paid zero dollars in federal taxes in 2017 and 2018 while CEO Jeff Bezos rocketed his way to becoming the richest man in the world. Since the pandemic began, Bezos' wealth has increased by $74 billion, more than four times the projected deficit of the MTA by 2024. Carroll noted this in his op-ed, saying that Amazon's profits were up 50 percent over last year, and still tried to sell his surcharge.
"We have been clear only $12 billion in federal relief can prevent drastic service cuts, layoffs and gutting our historic capital plan that would devastate our colleagues and customers," the MTA's communication director Tim Minton said in a statement provided to Complex. "While the MTA welcomes creative solutions and any new revenue, the proposal is subject to the state legislative process and cannot itself solve the problem, which is why we urge continued advocacy in Washington."
Needless to say, some people weren't happy about the proposed surcharge.