It's Your Money: New York State fees and surcharges

Posted at: 02/18/2013 7:53 PM
By: Ray Levato

Did you know the State of New York tacks on charges to everything from a traffic ticket to a dog license?  That's money that comes right out of your pocket. Fees and surcharges raise hundreds of millions of dollars every year for the state. The governor's new state budget calls for extending many of them.

The deadline for lawmakers to vote is April 1. Unless they act to change it before then, the fees will stay.

The governor says he's trying to make New York business friendly and tax friendly. But what about fee and surcharge friendly? It's a system that many people believe is out of control.  
Say you get pulled over for what is a minor traffic violation. You pay the fine. But there's also the matter of the state's mandatory surcharge on all moving violations.

Jennifer Ashley said, “I got a traffic ticket for something I probably shouldn't be doing and they dismissed the ticket, but I got an $85 surcharge which was unbelievable. Oh, I thought it was barbaric. I thought it was unbelievable because it was actually more than what the ticket would have been for.”

News10NBC heard from a guy who was pulled over for an expired boat trailer registration. The ticket was $50, but he was slapped with an $85 surcharge, so that really was $135 surcharge, so that really was $135 out the window for forgetting to renew the registration.

News10NBC asked Empire State Development Regional President Sam Hoyt about this when he was here to push Gov. Cuomo's new state budget. The Cuomo budget would extend the $80 state surcharge even to tickets that are pleaded down to a lesser violation in town courts.

Sam Hoyt, Cuomo Spokesman, said, “I wouldn't say we're nickel and dime-ing the residents. The largest one that you cited there is for traffic violations. Don't violate the law and you don't need to worry about that particular surcharge. It's for speeding as I understand. Don't speed.”

 But it was a different story four years ago when then Assemblyman Hoyt responded to similar complaints about state surcharges on traffic tickets.

Hoyt in 2009 said, “Too many times we look at the revenue side, lets increase the revenue. That's not the answer, taxing and nickel and dime-ing people right out of the state.”

The state collects tens of millions of dollars in fees and surcharges each year and there's no way to contest it.

Sarah Manrique said, “I turned left but I wasn't in the left hand turn lane. I didn't know there was one because the weather was bad out. The ticket was $50, plus a $50 surcharge.”

News10NBC emailed Hoyt to ask why he changed his opinion on these surcharges and News10NBC will let you know what he says.

Surcharges have been used to plug holes in state budgets and have steadily been increased over the last ten years.
The courts also tack on surcharges under the state penal law if you're convicted of a crime.
For example, some of that money goes to the crime victim assistance fund.  Get a dog license?  They'll tack on a $1 surcharge. And did you know that if you take a cab ride in New York City, you'll have to pay a $.50  surcharge?