Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli says that New York State should be bringing in even more money than he has been through unclaimed bottle deposits and the enforcement of the 1982 bottle law.
A recent audit conducted by DiNapoli’s office found that “from April 2014 through February 2017 the Department of Taxation and Finance failed to do its part to enforce the Returnable Container Act, which states that deposit initiators, which include distributors, beverage bottlers and certain stores that sell deposit bottles, are required to register with the state and file the quarterly reports which allow the state to calculate its share of the unclaimed deposits. But according to the audit, 39 of the state’s active deposit initiators failed to file any quarterly reports during the period studied, with another eight missing at least one report. Other irregularities showed questionable redemption amounts and percentages. The audit also noted that while the Department of Taxation and Finance did send warning notices to those who were delinquent in their reports, no further actions were taken and no penalties were ever issued,” VIN reports.
The law gives the state 80 percent of all unclaimed deposits, and permits the deposit initiators to keep the other 20 percent. $23 million of the state’s portion is reserved for the Environmental Protection Fund, with the state’s General Fund receiving the remainder. In 2015 and 2016 the state collected a combined $212.2 million in unclaimed deposits from the billions of bottles that go unreturned each year.
DiNapoli called on t
The Department of Taxation and Finance has been called on by DiNapoli to put procedures into place in order to verify the filed reports’ accuracy as well as to monitor deposit initiators to make sure their reports are accurate and that penalties are weighed and collected when needed.
DiNapoli said, “My auditors found the state Department of Taxation and Finance’s oversight over the program can be improved so environmental programs are not getting shortchanged. The department needs to do a better job collecting the money that could be used to protect and preserve our state’s natural resources, parkland, waterways and beaches.”
A quarter century ago, the Returnable Container Act was passed to encourage people to re1cycle and reduce waste. All deposit initiators in New York are required by state law to collect a five-cent deposit on certain beverage containers that are smaller than a gallon.
By Rachel Shapiro