With much regret, the 2013-2014 State’s Budget once again fails to deal with the “New York State Surcharge” or 18a Surcharge that every consumer of our state is burdened with on every monthly utility bill.  New Yorkers already are faced with some of the highest electric rates in the nation which are over 40 percent higher than the national average, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. What is the “NYS Surcharge”? Take a look at your monthly utility bill to see what your monthly tax burden is from this assessment and how it affects your pocket book. This tax is assessed to all residential and business customers.  I looked at my own home utility bill which revealed $8 per month or approximately $72 per year in unnecessary state assessed taxes and I consider myself a thrifty user of electricity.  After a quick review of the place I work at, I see we are burdened with $1,020 in unnecessary taxes due to the 18a Surcharge. The say that “New York is open for business”. I would say Albany is open to taking our hard earned money. The reality of this tax is that it seems like such a small amount, and who really understands or even looks at their utility bill anyway? Our esteemed legislators have already figured this hidden surcharge trick out and believe it should be extended.  Our elected officials could not sacrifice a projected $400+ million in yearly tax revenue and decided not to phase out the 18a surcharge to reduce energy costs for all NYS taxpayers.

This surcharge is truly a hidden tax that is projected to raise over $2.5 billion dollars for the state over the next six years. Section 18-a of the New York Public Service Law authorizes the state to impose a fee on electric bills from public utilities to fund the operations of energy-related agencies and authorities. Translation: Just another creative way to bleed our hard working taxpayers and businesses out of their money. The 18-a surcharge was scheduled to sunset in March, 2014, but a five-year extension was proposed in the 2013-2014 Executive Budget. A typical residential user is assessed at a rate of $0.00367 per kilowatt hour of electricity consumed. Seems like a small amount, but a National Grid cost estimate projects that the annual impact of 18-a extension on a typical large business at $30,000, $540 for a typical small business, and $55 per year for an average household. Eliminating the Section 18a surcharge would be a fair and equitable way to reduce costs to every citizen in New York. Why wouldn’t our legislators be supportive of such an action? I think we all need to ask them “why”. If New York is truly “open for business”, let’s show it by reducing energy costs for all New Yorkers.