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New York Will Repay You, Someday

by on February 22, 2010

You’d think they’d be grateful.  But the beneficiaries of our involuntary kindness are too busy punishing us for it.  New York State is planning on propping itself with tax refunds in lieu of promptly returning the overpayments to their proper owners.  A governor who amusingly thinks he could win a term is going to keep our money for as long as he has said ability to impose financial misery on us dregs:

New York Governor David Paterson is not backing down from his proposal to delay state income tax refunds for some filers.

After speaking at the General Motors plant in Tonawanda, Paterson told reporters that the state legislature’s inability to cut an additional $750 million from the budget last December has forced him to contemplate what some might consider a drastic measure.

Leave it to Paterson to draw attention away from the news of jobs being added at a local plant that builds engines for one of the government’s car companies.  And his message was even worse than his timing.  When you run out of currency, you stop spending.  When New York runs out of currency, they hold on to some of yours that they’re supposed to return so they can keep spending:

Mr. Paterson said the state is in danger of running out of cash, and he plans to withhold state income tax refunds from New Yorkers who file their returns in March. Paterson said the delay should be only a few weeks. Those who file their returns before March should receive their returns on time, he said.

As usual, keeping us from our money is being done for our own good.  Why don’t we know better?

I think it’s appropriate to withhold it when you’re protecting the people from the ramifications of the state becoming insolvent. The money does belong to the people. There is no specific time that the money has to be sent to the people. And I will make sure the money gets out as soon as I can assure the state won’t go bankrupt. When we have these kinds of discussions, I don’t think people understand the ramifications – the problems they will have – if this state becomes insolvent. It would be a whole lot worse than a two-week in an income tax payment.

Oh, take your time, guys: we’re cool, not to mention we know you’re good for it.  Probably.  Still, it could be beneficial to promptly return funds that rightfully belong to individuals.  For one, those who owed state income tax for 2009 but lost work during the same year might be planning on using the funds to contribute toward a mortgage payment in hopes of avoiding foreclosure or persevere until getting hired again.  Plus, they could be looking to purchase, you know, food.

Whatever happens, the state will end up extending whatever antipoverty benefits they can.  They’ll be funded through means such as, say, the overpayments to which New York is clinging.  Unfortunately, it’s unlikely they’ll even contemplate cutting out the middleman by reducing state spending.

Blame the man plodding through his last months as state leader, as he could care less about what you like to buy.  Paterson doesn’t want your trifling desire to get your money back interfering with the state’s monstrous appetite.  Of course, the state suffers as he fails to exert control.  Paterson is hamstrung not by ideology but rather by personality, namely in how his level-beige blandness has prevented him from accomplishing anything as he finishes out another’s tenure.

A powerful governor could have coerced other politicians into a budget deal of his liking.  Meanwhile, a conciliatory executive would have built a broad coalition after making a successful case to the public.  In lieu of being effective, Paterson desperately attempts to cover outlays that he couldn’t prevent.  It costs New Yorkers plenty when their alleged leader does nothing.

That said, this might just be taxing and spending framed as inevitable by a governor who knows better.  Paterson often speaks of cuts he wants but doesn’t get.  He might be as impotent as we expected he would be when he woke up and assumed office.  But he also could want to spend at will while pretending he doesn’t.

After all, he knows that finding a state-level representative who genuinely favors spending reductions is harder than booking a room at the Statler.  With that in mind, he may as well act like he’s against unwieldy spending but unable to prevent the tidal wave.  It’s the equivalent of feigning sympathy for a despised coworker after he or she has been canned.

Speaking of someone who will lose a job this year, Paterson may or may not be that cunning; “may not” seems far more plausible.  Either way, it doesn’t matter if he’s failed at halting spending or craftily let it happen after devising a cover story.  As WGRZ thankfully highlighted, the result is that New York is holding what’s rightfully yours for awhile.  But at least you get to learn to make due during lean financial times.  The government is teaching you an invaluable lesson.  You’re welcome.

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One Comment
  1. jimmkaz permalink

    I’m all for the state taking their time to return my money… they can keep it as long as they want… just next time i get a ticket or have to pay any sort of fine to them, they can expect the same from me.

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