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LETTER: Eliminating the income tax is unwise

To the Editor:

Too many lobbyists influence too many legislators who create too many taxes. Taxes are inflicted upon blueberries, potatoes, quahogs, pet food and even milk.

Every product, every activity, is a possible tax candidate. They’ve even considered dairy sperm. They are voracious and, unless controlled, neither we nor our dairy cattle are safe.

Our politicians, like choirboys, have memorized the words and music to the popular refrain: “Let’s reduce taxes.” But they are angelic and rosy-cheeked only when singing. Out of sight, they are mischievously creating or increasing taxes.

Still, we hope they will surprise us and turn out well. We hold a similar hope for our governor, who wants to reduce and eventually eliminate the state income tax.

I hesitate to discourage a possibly sincere politician, but eliminating the income tax is unwise. In the interest of disclosure and to reveal my own sincerity, the governor’s additional intention to not tax retirement income would definitely benefit me. That said, I remain opposed; the income tax is too marvelously efficient.

When we pay this tax, we have only to compute a percentage of our Federal taxes and write a check. Further, the state income tax is adjustable; it can and should assess us based upon our ability to pay.

It should not punish the unemployed, impoverished widows, small children or fatally discourage marginal earners who stubbornly continue to work instead of surrendering to welfare.

The governor objects to Maine’s high fuel tax—I don’t! Fuel-tax revenue intended for the repair of roads and bridges is insufficient. We should cautiously increase this tax until we no longer have to endure potholes or authorize bond packages. Road maintenance is unavoidable, and so is paying the bill.

The fuel tax is a wonderful choice: it is paid, not by individual service stations, but by less than a dozen fuel distributers who periodically write checks to the state treasury.

Except for the income tax and the fuel tax, other taxes are each expensive to collect, manage and enforce. They are slam-dunk candidates for elimination. The sales tax is the worst offender.

It employs a host of state workers and requires many businesses to collect, document and submit money and forms to a state bureaucracy. It places Maine in unfair competition with New Hampshire and the Internet. Our businesspersons are coerced into becoming unpaid tax collectors, whose labor would be better spent in stocking shelves, increasing business or enjoying a few additional hours with their families.

Those legislators—so desperate they considered taxing dairy sperm and who may have been thwarted only by their inability to devise a straight-faced method of enforcement—easily extract revenue through stealth taxation such as licenses.

State issued licenses serve two purposes; their intent is to protect the public and, less nobly, to raise revenue. Similar to ordinary taxes, each one requires a burdensome bureaucracy and most are unnecessary.

We should eliminate the fee for hunting and fishing licenses. This, if nothing else, will encourage and annually remind us of the possibility of government improvement.

Maine residents should be entitled to hunt and fish and require no more than valid state identification. Nothing is accomplished with a paper license that couldn’t be improved with computers.

Almost every occupation, except idle whittling on the porch of the general store, requires an annual license. We should begin reducing this wasteful burden by eliminating an obviously unnecessary license: the one required to dig blood worms.

When I called the state, they explained the license fee was needed for research. When I asked what the state now knows about blood worms it didn’t know 50 years ago, there was a long silence.

Valid identification could ensure only Maine residents dig blood worms. But, if some fool is so desperate that they will drive from Massachusetts to Wiscasset to work harder than at any other occupation, well, I say let them. The state collects $40,000 for these licenses; if we employ additional bureaucrats, how much is gained?

When we decide which occupations must be licensed to protect the public, there is an innovative solution: charge nothing for licenses. If a license is necessary to protect our citizens, the state should bear its cost.

This will immediately invest state bureaucrats and legislators with marvelous insight and, accordingly, both unnecessary licensure and too frequent renewals will be eliminated.

Dick Sabine

Lewiston

 

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