Is your state broke? Suffering from liquidity issues? Desperate to buff up municipal coffers? Worry no more, dear resident, if your state is anything like mine, they’ve got one hell of a plan up their sleeve.
Lots of bright ideas, after the jump
With the economy floundering and tax revenues falling, governments and public authorities have tried to patch holes in their tattered budgets by charging new or higher fees for a broad range of services — including taking a civil service exam and operating a nuclear power plant.
The purpose of the many microcharges is to help avoid, or at least limit, broader tax increases. But with escalating fees for things like tanning bed inspections, pistol permits and marriage certificates, daily life can start to seem like a labyrinth of public-sector panhandlers.
There are increased payments required from cradle (birth certificates) to grave (plots in municipal cemeteries); in the workplace (licenses for private investigators, lifeguards and tax preparers) and at leisure spots (entrances to parks and public golf courses).
It doesn’t end there. Municipalities will have to make their pennies up wherever they can – this affects everything from parking meters to licenses (yes, even your precious CPA, little beancounter!), booze to license plates. “Fee-based government” is the new “tax and spend” and you can pretty safely bet that you’re going to get it squeezed out of you everywhere you turn. States argue that the policy allows them to make up vulgar budget shortfalls in the least offensive way possible, applying increased fees to specific services instead of vague, across-the-board tax increases.
We are used to this when it comes to the CPA exam as NASBA has increased fees every August as far back as I can remember (thankfully a beer is now $96 in California so my short term memory has increased as I’ve cut out discretionary spending and at the same time unintentionally solved my drinking problem that came as a result of my accounting job) and 2009 is no exception. It cost $809.71 in 2008 and is now $822.73. Putting this into perspective, just Audit would have cost you $159.25 in 2006. By 2008, it was up to $226.28 – keeping in mind that this is only the fee paid to NASBA and does not include re-exam fees and/or applicable State Board of Accountancy/Prometric fees.
Ouch. Don’t expect this to get better any time soon.