The Nassau County Legislature unanimously adopted a partial suspension of the county’s sales tax on gasoline Monday, though Democratic officials said more could have been done.
The emergency law would eliminate the tax on gas above $3 per gallon. The 4.25 percent county sales tax rate would be enforced for the $3 per gallon, but amounts above that would not be taxed, officials said. Officials said the savings would be roughly five cents per gallon.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said the Legislature had been “kicking around” ideas on how to help middle-class families. Blakeman said his budget team felt that the $3 cap would be “the most reasonable thing to do.”
“We’re only collecting taxes on what gas was in 2020,” Blakeman said on Tuesday. “We’re not taking the windfall from the people, because we would’ve had a windfall in Nassau County … if we didn’t do this.”
Democratic officials said more could have been done, with aides claiming the Republican-controlled Legislature rejected a proposal that would have reduced gas prices by approximately nine cents per gallon. Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said Blakeman should be “ashamed of himself for pulling such a brazen bait-and-switch on Nassau taxpayers.”
“This morning, after the Minority Caucus filed legislation to deliver the maximum local gas tax cut allowable under New York State law – one that would have saved motorists about 9 cents per gallon – County Executive Blakeman and the Majority excoriated us and the state for not doing enough for Nassau taxpayers,” Abrahams said in a statement Monday. “Then, under the cover of night, the Majority passed a cut amounting to just 5 cents per gallon – approximately 45 percent less than what we proposed.”
Democratic officials began advocating for the suspension of the gas tax last month when the average price per gallon on Long Island was nearing $5 per gallon.
According to the state Tax Department, state and local taxes are just two of the six taxes applied to gasoline purchases. Others include state and federal excise taxes, a petroleum business tax and an environmental tax. New York’s state sales tax rate has been fixed at eight cents per gallon since June 2006.
Blakeman previously criticized higher government for shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline as one reason the price of gas has risen.
“The increase in energy prices is directly attributable to federal and state policies that have decreased domestic production and relied on foreign energy sources which have increased energy costs and made us vulnerable to foreign powers,” Blakeman said. “I would hope that those minority legislators lobby their colleagues in Albany and Washington to reopen the Keystone XL pipeline and take other measures which would lower energy costs and make America more secure.”