To the Editor:
Politicians in Augusta want to reform the state tax code—again! What should ordinary folk make of this? We should believe that general truth, that fundamental principle, the one that states: whatever politicians say they are talking about, what they are really talking about is money: ours.
They propose collecting less money from here and more money from there. Is there anyone reading this, anyone who can count pocket change, who isn’t already convinced this shell game means that overall we will pay more taxes?
I’m not opposed to paying higher taxes—under certain conditions. The use should be for a necessary governmental purpose and, most important, the taxes and the amount I am asked to pay should not be determined by fools.
The bipartisan “Gang of 11” proposes increasing the sales tax percentage and taxing groceries and heating fuel. Some citizens already find it difficult to pay for these necessities, and now politicians want to punish them further. However, in fairness, Augusta politicians have foreseen this problem and propose giving the unfortunates a rebate.
This solution must rank in the same category as the proposed solution to a leaking fountain pen, which is to wear rubber gloves. The proposed rebate will require completing and submitting forms and will, not unexpectedly, require additional state employees—as if we didn’t already have more than necessary.
Perhaps, the Augusta bipartisan politicians—please be assured, it’s not just my politicians or your party’s politicians that don’t know what they’re doing—are considering creating more state employees. They propose doing this by paying everyone who collects sales taxes, a percentage of the amount collected, thus making them paid state employees.
This admittedly, is fair; I have long ranted against making so many of our citizens unpaid tax collectors. It is wrong to unnecessarily add to a businessman’s burdens, and doubly wrong to ask them to do it for free. All right, we can agree, it’s fair but not efficient. It unnecessarily increases the amount of taxes that have to be collected. But, don’t worry, politicians will quickly scuttle this idea; they would sooner surrender their children than share any of their revenue.
If the motivating idea is to simplify our tax code, we could begin by eliminating inefficient taxes. We could eliminate the sales tax and free businessmen from involuntary servitude and make unnecessary those state employees that administer the program. We should depend more upon our state income tax. It’s more sensible; it taxes those able to pay; and it doesn’t require the state to extort the homeless for their pocket change.
Let’s go further. Let our communities collect their revenue by voting for a community income tax on both residents and those that earn money in their communities. This eliminates property evaluations, reduces municipal employees and will help retirees afford to continue living in their homes. Finally, we should increase our fuel tax; out-of-staters, who also use our roads, will be able to contribute toward their cost. And we should ensure that the collected fuel taxes are sufficient to repair our roads and bridges and eliminate the periodical necessity to authorize bonds for this purpose. This will give our politicians a break since they won’t have to step forward, struggle to keep a straight face and explain why, after wisely spending all of the state’s money, they don’t have any left for the roads.
Unfortunately, this bipartisan tax reform, as flawed and as predatory as it may be, may pass because it includes an essential bipartisan ingredient: additional revenue. We may need another citizen’s referendum to cancel it. They have obviously chosen to ignore our last one.
And, if we find ourselves outside supermarkets and leaning over folding card tables to sign another citizen’s stopgap measure, let’s include an additional initiative limiting total state spending to 75% of what we pay now and which is, unbelievably, still more than New Hampshire. Let’s see if that will get their attention.