my annual PSA: ‘tis the season - welcome to New York. Watch your back.

Welcome to New York City. Stay awake.

This discussion touches on a few dull and depressing topics - crime, taxes, and public transportation - but skim through if your holiday travel plans include New York City.

First, know that stores, street and sidewalks get very crowded during holiday season. In addition to the expected public attractions, some people’s homes or offices attract crowds, and for purposes of your visit it doesn’t matter if the crowd is of curious people, annoyed and tired people, protesting people... crowds to you or me are hunting grounds to pickpockets.

As the wife of a guy who has had his wallet removed from his trousers almost every time we visit a major city abroad, and who still thinks he shouldn’t have to take sensible precautions because he has always kept his wallet in his back pocket and people should recognize and respect this - let me offer some of the good advice to which Himself is impervious.

the Artful Dodger - a tradition continues

Men. Your back pocket is easy pickings. If you must carry a loaded wallet, carry it in a front or side pocket. If someone’s sticky fingers grope the front of you, you will notice, and you can step on the perpetrator’s foot or grab his wrist, say something like NOW CUT THAT OUT, step back, and you will still have your wallet and not have to miss dinner or theater because your tickets or credit cards were in your wallet. Just because you CAN freeze or unfreeze your phone or credit card, doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy being in a situation where you’ll have to.

Busses. By and large, I’m in favor of busses, mainly because you can see where you are and figure out very quickly whether or not you are going in the right direction. Also because the drivers have to take a special test that checks their knowledge of the city, at least of their very own route.

At present bus and/or subway fare is paid with a Metrocard. You can buy Metrocards in varying denominations at Metrocard machines, which live in subway and railroad stations. Also, the MTA’s website will find neighborhood stores that carry Metrocards - here’s a link .

At present you can also pay regular bus (but not subway) fare with coins (but not pennies) (and not bills) as you board the bus. The bus driver can not make change.

All of this is going to be “improved” - Heaven help us - municipal planning is underfoot - so here is a link to the MTA’s very own website.

Sales tax. I wanted to pick up a little souvenir Statue of Liberty for a stocking stuffer and popped in to one of those souvenir/antique/going out of business shops on Fifth Avenue.  A crime was in process. The sales clerk (owner?) was explaining to a puzzled young couple that there was a rather hefty sales tax on tee shirts, but that they could collect it back at the airport.

OK, this is where you should pay attention. The United States does not have a national sales tax or Value Added Tax. Really. New York State has its very own sales tax, as does the City of New York. If a merchant tells you that you can collect back the New York taxes, or the non-existent national tax, at the airport as you are leaving, he is lying.There is no such facility. I wouldn’t buy anything from someone who tried to tell me that, because if he’s that kind of liar, the goods could turn out to be fake or counterfeit or damaged or worse. Walk away.

As to the state and city sales taxes - you also need to know this: items of “clothing” that cost $109.99 or less are not subject to NY state or NY city sales tax. Items of clothing that cost $110.00 or more are taxable. For NY sales tax purposes, “clothing” is defined here.  By the way, I have filed with the State a Complaint and Request for Refund against Ann Taylor because they insisted on collecting sales tax on 2 scarves and a belt (all considered clothing). The amount of money was not enormous, but the staff were rude and condescending when I pointed out the error. I could have just walked out, but c’mon, I was not the one committing tax fraud.

1 comment:

  1. I'm headed there soon. I'd like to think I'd avoid these scams but I was once robbed in a macaron shop in Paris, so what do I know?


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