Editorial: Plan to tax renovations a bad idea

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

If state officials could control spending as energetically as they propose new taxes, then Albany would be in a much better position to weather the deepening recession.

Instead, Gov. David Paterson has saddled us with a bevy of proposals that will take money out of residents’ pockets and make New Yorkers less likely to want to spend their own money.

Case in point: Paterson’s proposal to bring in some $280 million in new revenue by charging sales tax on materials or labor when contractors work on home renovation projects.

Inevitably, this proposed tax would have a chilling effect on home renovations. If you have to pay sales tax on materials and labor on what would already be a $10,000 project, that’s going to add hundreds of dollars to the tab.

And some residents are going to hold off.

That not only hurts residents’ quality of life, it hurts the dozens of companies and individuals who help residents put an expansion on their home, remodel their kitchen or spruce up that powder room with the 1970s floral-print wallpaper. As Cassville contractor Dana Hutchings says, “All it will do is squash a lot of work.”

It isn’t the fault of homeowners and contractors that the governor and legislators can’t manage New York’s finances well. Government should be focused on enhancing economic activity, not limiting it.

Rather than impose this tax, state legislators need to work with the governor’s office to find ways to cut $280 million in spending from the 2009-10 budget. This is exactly the type of effort our leaders shy away from, but in these times, they have no choice but to become serious about it.