These days, nothing seems to surprise me any more. As states, local municipalities and the federal government try to bridge budget deficits since they spent like drunken sailors during good times and didn’t prepare for bad times, they are continuously enacting all sorts of new fees, taxes, surcharges, cutting services and more. They need to pay off debt fast, but instead they just keep taxing and spending. Some of these seemingly outrageous measures include charging for traffic accidents, taxing soda, increasing state sales taxes, removing tax deductions, and in some cities, police will no longer even respond to certain types of crimes – they’ve just been stretched too thin with declining budgets.
But This Takes the Cake
Everything I listed above, while frustrating, is at least within the jurisdiction of a taxing authority. If the revenue just isn’t there, rather than continue to take on new debt, services have to be cut. Taxes have to increase. Politicians are continuously seeking the optimal risk/benefit in identifying new taxes so they can garner the most revenue while pissing off the fewest people. Soda taxes, the tanning tax and cigarette taxes all have the guise of “deterring bad behavior” while probably not irking too many voters.
However, what about when the government oversteps its bounds and starts confiscating personal property and private industry revenues?
I was shocked and frustrated to read about New Jersey’s attempt to generate tax revenue by essentially stealing the value of gift cards that have gone unused for a defined period of time. This is complete insanity. Within the past few years, we saw moves and legislation to force companies to stop putting expiry dates and monthly charges on aging gift cards – only to be replaced by the state government taking those proceeds! Talk about hypocrisy!
So, after this attempt was initially struck down in court, New Jersey isn’t giving up. They’re appealing and going back for more (CNBC).
What Happens to Old Gift Cards
Often times, these cards will sit in a corner somewhere or even get lost completely. After a long enough period of time, the company either assumes it will never be redeemed and they factor that into their financials or you actually find it and use it years later. Since there are millions of such transactions and years of data to build assumptions, companies are pretty good at predicting what the redemption rate is. There are millions of dollars kind of sitting in limbo out there at any given time. But this is a contract between store and buyer. What right does the government have to come in and say, “OK, time’s up – fork over that money, it’s mine now”. This is a complete outrage. That money belongs to either the consumer or the corporation, but certainly not the state!
This is Why You Should Sell and Trade Your Gift Cards
There’s a great way to resolve this situation – and get rid of all the lousy cards you just got for Christmas. I’ve used plastic jungle multiple times to unload my gift cards I don’t need and then either keep the cash, or buy cards I use constantly, like Lowes and Home Depot cards. For example, if your mom bought you a Gap card for Christmas bought you hate their clothes, why let it sit there for years and lose it (or have it confiscated by your state)? Just sell the thing for 90 cents on the dollar and use the cash for something you actually want. Or, if you’re constantly buying appliances and upgrading your home, buy a $500 gift card to Lowes for $450! Cards are both bought and sold at a discount to face value and they just collect a small commission.
Plastic Jungle has hundreds of top retailers and they verify the cards are legit before anyone gets paid. It’s a great market efficiency medium of exchange since so many people don’t want what they have or would like to have what they need for a discount.
Check out the top cards for sale here: