A bill proposed in New York City would charge residents $3 for all packages ordered online other than food or medicine

  • Rep. Robert Carroll proposed a new bill that would add a $3 fee to online package deliveries in NYC. The bill exempts deliveries of medicine or food from being hit with the tax. 
  • Some people on Twitter criticized the proposed bill, noting that online shopping is more than a convenience for some groups, like people with disabilities or elderly New Yorkers.
  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took aim at how the bill would target consumers instead of businesses: "Maybe instead of taxing people who need baby formula and essential goods, we tax those who have profited billions from a global pandemic?"
  • E-commerce retailers like Amazon have seen huge growth this year. The Commerce Department reported a total of $209.5 billion in e-commerce sales in the third quarter.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A new proposal would have New York City residents pay an extra tax on packages ordered online that aren't medicine or food, NBC New York first reported.

Bill A06078B was proposed by Democrat Robert Carroll, who was just reelected to the New York State Assembly this year. The bill is only one sentence long, and reads "Adds a three dollar surcharge on online delivery transactions terminating within the city of New York to be used to fund the operating costs of buses and subways in the city of New York." 

Read more: Off-price retailers like Burlington and Ross are set to win big over department stores this holiday season

The response online quickly turned critical. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted about the proposal, saying "Maybe instead of taxing people who need baby formula and essential goods, we tax those who have profited billions from a global pandemic?"

The proposal consciously targets e-commerce companies like Amazon that have profited during the pandemic. In a New York Daily News Op-Ed on Monday, Carroll and his coauthor Transport Workers Union international president John Samuelsen wrote "The delivery siege will only get worse. Online commerce is booming. Amazon's profits are up 53% compared to last year."

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos saw his wealth grow by nearly $70 billion since March, according to an analysis by the Institute for Policy Studies. During the pandemic, billionaires in the US have added $637 billion to their portfolios. 

While Carroll noted that shopping online is "cheap and convenient," he wrote that he hoped this bill would encourage people to shop at local small businesses. Meanwhile, some people on Twitter noted that online shopping is more than a convenience for some groups, like people with disabilities or elderly New Yorkers.

E-commerce has grown almost exponentially this year, spurred by the pandemic and store closures. Last year, the New York Times reported that 1.5 million packages were delivered in the city every day, which has likely grown since. The US Department of Commerce reported $209.5 billion in e-commerce sales in the third quarter, an increase of 36% over e-commerce in the same period in 2019.

The numbers so far fall in line with analyst predictions. eMarketer projected overall e-commerce growth of 35.8% this year as people continue to shop online for the remainder of the holidays and beyond. Shipping companies and online retailers have begun warning customers about a potential "shipageddon" if they cannot keep up with the surge of packages.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio did not immediately to Business Insider's request for comment. A spokesperson from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office said that they would review the bill.

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