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Proposed NY tax on streaming and digital products would pay for public transit

Buffalonians who spoke with 2 On Your Side were mixed on the proposal.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A tax on digital media like movies and audiobooks could be added to your paid subscriptions as a way to support public transit across the state, at least that's what members of New York's Assembly Majority are proposing.

The idea is part of the Assembly's budget proposal which was submitted Thursday. It would add an overall 8% sales tax to subscriptions like Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, Spotify, and Audible; 4% would be state sales tax, and the other 4% would local sales tax.

Other media or "digital product" that is "electronically or digitally delivered, streamed or accessed" would also be subject according to the Assembly's proposal. Cable and satellite television as well as newspapers or periodicals would be excluded.

The Assembly estimates revenue for New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA, would reach $63 million by 2026-2027 and reach $29 million the first year.

By 2026-2027, an estimated $46 million would be raised for public transit everywhere else around the state, $21 million the first year.

Buffalonians who spoke with 2 On Your Side were mixed on the proposal.

"I can't decide if it's a good idea or not to got to the streaming sites, but I think public transportation is important," Suresh Kumar Ramaieah said.

"People can't do it no more. Paychecks aren't doing up, and everything else is going up," added KC Nomes.

With the final state budget due by April 1, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said while there is still a lot of things to work out. The Assembly's proposal is only one-third of the three-part negotiation process, which also includes Gov. Kathy Hochul's budget proposal and the State Senate's.

"I know how desperate the MTA is for resources, and frankly, I know how desperate the NFTA is for additional resources," Peoples-Stokes (D) said.

While the majority leader told 2 On Your Side she doesn't think this tax proposal would tank negotiations, she hopes it will be included.

"If you're talking to somebody who drives a car who never needs to use a bus, then they're probably going to say, 'Why is there going to be a new tax?' But if you talk to somebody who takes the bus everywhere, they go, they're going to say, 'Oh, yeah, we do need support for public transit,' " the Majority Leader added.

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said the move is just another example of Albany Democrats taxing the middle class.

"It may be the old adage, but it's an accurate adage. I would say we tax everything in New York, and not only do we tax everything in New York, we tax it at the highest rates we possibly can," Barclay said.

Budget negotiations are expected to resume in haste next week when lawmakers return to Albany.

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