Nassau County Democratic legislators proposed suspending the county’s gasoline tax as the average price per gallon on Long Island exceeded $4.30 as of Tuesday, more than a $1.50 increase from last year.
Democratic legislators, in a press release sent out earlier this month, said suspending the 4.25-percent sales tax on gasoline purchases would save around 18 cents per gallon. If gas prices were to exceed $5 a gallon, officials said, it would save people more than 21 cents per gallon.
Legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said suspending the county’s portion of the gasoline sales tax “would have a minimal impact” upon the county’s estimated tax surplus for the 2022 fiscal year and its projected revenue.
“No Nassau County resident should be forced to choose between filling their gas tank and filling their prescriptions, but as fuel prices continue to climb, that is what far too many are confronted with,” Abrahams said. “Temporarily suspending Nassau’s gasoline sales taxes will go a long way toward protecting local families as our nation takes difficult but necessary steps in the pursuit of peace.”
Fellow Democratic legislators and congressional candidates Seila Bynoe (D-Westbury) and Josh Lafazan (D-Woodbury) also expressed a desire to see the tax suspended.
“Government has a responsibility to closely analyze every opportunity for minimizing as much pain at the pump as we possibly can,” Bynoe said. “While some of the necessary steps that we have taken will require sacrifice from the American people, this initiative will reduce the pain at the pump for consumers at a critical time.”
“Soaring fuel prices are making the average Nassau resident’s daily commute more expensive than ever,” Lafazan said. “To confront this emergency, it is essential for local government to act swiftly to protect our residents and support long-term economic growth.”
The state Senate has also proposed a suspension of the gas tax in its budget resolution, which would suspend the fee from May 1 until the end of the year. Gov. Kathy Hochul expressed initial support for the proposal but has recognized other factors that complicate the matter and said the matter was under review.
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.
Abrahams and other Democratic legislators have criticized Republican legislators and County Executive Bruce Blakeman for not supporting the measure on the county level.
“County Executive Blakeman and the Republican Majority are offering no solutions – just the usual assortment of finger-pointing, deflection, and political propaganda,” Abrahams said in a press release. “While parroting oil company talking points won’t do a thing to help Nassau residents make ends meet, suspending Nassau’s share of the sales tax on gasoline will.”
“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 in a statement. “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.”