As a service to the community we serve, the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce believes it is important to bring to the public’s attention the adverse impact on consumers and businesses of the sales tax increase proposed by Westchester County. This would affect not only Yorktown and its five hamlets, but towns throughout the lower Hudson Valley.
As residents of one of the highest taxed counties in the country, the last thing we need is more taxes. Yet, incredibly, that is what the county is prepared to do.
The current sales tax rate in most of Westchester is 7.375 percent. That includes a 4-percent rate levied by the state and 3 percent levied by the county (plus an MTA rate of 0.375 percent). The proposed increase would make the county tax 4 percent, for a total sales tax of 8.375 percent—the same as New York City.
If a single percentage point doesn’t sound like a lot, consider that it is approximately 13.5 percent higher than the current sales tax.
We have several concerns with this proposed tax hike:
• On large purchases, it could drive residents to shop in neighboring states, counties (New York City has a 4-percent exemption on many popular clothing items under $110) or, as is more and more common, do their shopping online.
• It would increase the cost of almost every purchase, from your dry cleaning to your vehicle purchases.
• It would raise the cost of living for everyone, but especially create a greater pain point for lower- to middle-income families.
• The financial windfall predicted by this increase will be offset by the loss in sales revenue to Yorktown and other Westchester municipalities.
The fast-growing competition for local merchants from internet sales, exacerbated by the ease with which sales tax laws are circumvented online, is exerting dangerous pressure on all our bricks-and-mortar business owners.
Making it costlier to patronize these local businesses with an ill-advised 13.5-percent sales tax increase will help accelerate the number of empty storefronts in Yorktown and elsewhere in the county.
I urge our county and state elected officials to oppose this sales tax increase, which promises to hinder and burden local business communities that, more than ever, need our unified support and patronage.
Shop local, buy local.
Sergio Esposito is the president of the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce.