Stop Pushing The Tax Button

Originally published by American Issues Project
By K. Daniel Glover

Back in 2005, Staples scored a marketing coup with a humorous series of “easy button” television commercials that advertised the chain as the simplest way to restock office supplies. Unfortunately, government officials have applied that “easy” concept to their budget planning.

Every time they face a shortfall, they hit the tax button — or convince clueless voters to hit it for them. Politicians deem every government program as being vital (to their re-election) and become a unified, bipartisan “party of no” when anyone suggests that they act like normal people and cut their budgets rather than tax more so they can spend more.

When economic times are good, the tax-and-spenders say it’s the best time to raise taxes because voters can afford it. When times are bad, like now, they say they have to raise taxes because revenues are declining as property values tank, people lose jobs and consumers spend less.

Here’s just a sampling of states that are rushing to push the tax button this year:

  • Illinois legislators may try to sugarcoat a 50 percent jump in the state income tax with ethics reforms spurred by the removal of Gov. Rod Blagojevich earlier this year. Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget also calls for a $1-a-pack hike in the cigarette tax and huge spikes in the fees to register and drive vehicles.
  • A two-thirds majority of the Nevada Legislature, the same margin required to override an expected veto by Gov. Jim Gibbons, cleared a $781 billion tax hike that will cover sales, payroll, vehicle- and business-license taxes.
  • Massachusetts is on the verge of raising its sales tax by 1.25 percent to generate more than $600 million in revenue. The state plans to spend the money on “vital” services like regional tourist councils, housing and mortgage subsidies, and summer jobs for at-risk youth.
  • And Oregon lawmakers drafted a tax plan designed to raise $277 million on the backs of corporations in the state to partially address an $800 million budget shortfall. The lawmakers also hope to boost the gas tax by 6 cents and take a bigger cut of some people’s incomes.

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No Net Tax Gains … Or No Net Taxes

Originally published by American Issues Project
By K. Daniel Glover

Politicians and bureaucrats love taxes. If you build it, they will tax it. They’ll do the same if you buy it, sell it, drive it, eat it, drink it or smoke it. The National Tax Foundation captured the governmental tax spirit perfectly last week in a spoof video called the “Nanny Tax Rap.”

The government’s penchant for taxing anything and everything explains why hundreds of thousands of Americans rallied at “tea parties” on Tax Day last month to protest taxes and spending. It also explains the opposition to new taxes on Internet sales.

But fans of free markets and tax reform shouldn’t impulsively dismiss the Internet tax movement. Instead, they should consider embracing it as an opportunity to deter money-grubbing state and local officials from raiding the wallets of their constituents every time they get in a tight spot.

Back in 1989, the first Bush administration imposed a no-net-loss policy for wetlands. In 21st-century America, it’s time for a no-net-gains policy for taxes, and the latest push to start taxing Internet sales provides a big opening to pursue that goal.

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