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A Question of Taxes

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Since I’m registered as neither a Democrat nor Republican, my May 15th primary election ballot afforded me no choices except the following:

“Do you favor imposing a 0.6% Personal Income Tax? There is currently no local income tax. Revenue generated from the tax would be used to reduce taxes on each qualified residential property by an estimated amount of $450.”

When I first discovered this proposal, I performed a quick calculation and figured that any homeowner earning less than $75,000 annually would likely vote in favor of the tax. For example, if a household earned $70,000, at .6% it would have to pony up $420 under the new law; after a property tax reduction of $450, the household would realize a net gain of $30. Of course, this assumes that all properties will get the exact same reduction of $450, that there will be no shenanigans as to what constitutes “qualified residential property,” and so forth.

If the above is correct, then any homeowner earning less than $75,000 annually should logically support the tax. But there is another group which would obviously be gung-ho over it – present and near-future retirees. With nothing but investment, social security and miscellaneous income, it’s highly likely that property owners in this group are taking in less than $75,000 annually. They will happily pocket the couple of hundred extra dollars a year, although this is pretty much a drop in the proverbial bucket.

Meanwhile, renters such as myself will have the dubious “pleasure” of subsidizing these elderly landowners, as well as lower-income homeowners. Our pockets will be picked, our income from every source taxed at .6% this year – and who knows how much in the future? Governments have a shifty habit of increasing taxes; chances are good that the $450 “giveback” will evaporate someday soon. Also, note that people working at minimum wage will be forced to lose yet another portion of their already meager incomes, and to subsidize those earning far more.

So, what is to be gained by this simple-minded proposal, which creates yet another nosy bureaucracy, and at best offers no tax relief and merely tax transference? The answer is: a new source of tax revenue for the township. Those who will benefit in the short-term from the proposal, as noted above, will vote for it. Over time, however, their property taxes will be raised to levels above and beyond the proposed reductions. They’ll soon be paying more property tax than they did before, in addition to the new personal income tax (which will undoubtedly increase to a nice, even 1% before long). The township supervisors will then be pilfering more of our money than ever, to do with as they see fit. This is their true goal. It is the goal of all governments.

[Post-Election Postscript: Well, I guess you can’t fool all the people all the time – the proposal was voted down by a ratio of 9 to 1.]

May 17, 2007

Andrew S. Fischer has worked in various fields.

Andrew S. Fischer