By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
Game-fowl breeders give back to the community. Over the last 10 years, Arizona game breeders have donated to local charities such as Valley of the Sun School (a facility for the daily care of the mentally and physically handicapped), Maryvale's Little League, Shriners, etc. The sport makes economic contributions to Arizona; enthusiasts from other states spend millions of dollars in our motels, restaurants and tourist attractions. The feed stores that provide the supplies, feed and material to maintain the upkeep of the game fowl would be dealt a major economic blow if Proposition 201 passes.
If these groups can take away the right to own game fowl, what's going to keep them from taking away your right to own the animal of your choice? Don't let the animal-rights extremists run Arizona; vote no on Proposition 201.
Everyone agrees that the federal income tax needs improvement. However, a vote for Proposition 202, which would require federal candidates to choose between the federal income tax and a national sales tax, is a vote for a pig in a poke.
Amy Silverman's October 8 Wonk column, "Tax Rebels With a Cause," gives little analysis of the effects of eliminating the federal income tax, and raises some questions: 1) Should we depend solely on a consumption-related sales tax to "prime the pump" in a recession, when consumption is down? 2) Is the FICA payroll tax, which accounts for almost as much revenue as the personal income tax and which two-thirds of taxpayers pay more of than the income tax, eliminated too? 3) Doesn't replacing the income tax with a sales tax shift taxes to the poor and the middle class from the rich? 4) Doesn't the U.S. already have the most regressive overall tax system of the industrial democracies?
Nevada has the most regressive state and local tax system, in which the rich pay the lowest percentage and the poor pay the highest percentage of income, because it has no state income tax. The City of Phoenix has a doubly regressive sales tax on apartment rentals, but no sales tax on mortgages or on most single-family home rentals.
Tax reform that reduces taxes on good things (like work and savings) and increases taxes on bad things (like pollution and waste) should be a good basis for a sustainable and fair tax system. Additionally, a simple "flat" income tax could be developed to reverse the increasing gap between rich and poor and help reestablish both responsibility and relational justice in the U.S.
Real tax rebels should have a cause that does more than simplify the system and aid the rich.
Amy Silverman's column regarding Proposition 202, the IRS Elimination Pledge Initiative, reveals a wolf in sheep's clothing. The initiative's supporters claim that the existing IRS code is taking more out of the little guy's paycheck because of many big-business tax breaks. While it is true that powerful big-money special interests have adjusted the code to give themselves many advantages, and while it is true that the code needs extensive revamping, the federal income tax is still progressive. A progressive tax system is one where those with higher income pay a higher percentage of their income in tax.
On the other hand, what do the pledge proponents propose as a substitute for income tax? They want a national sales tax--a highly regressive tax in which those with higher incomes pay a lower percentage of their income in tax. The sales-tax system in Arizona paints a clear picture of the results of such a regressive tax. In Arizona, sales tax takes about 4 percent of the income of those in the bottom fifth of our population, while the top 1 percent of our population pays less than 1 percent of their income in sales tax. The pledge proposal would mean huge tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. And guess who will pick up the loss in tax revenues? The other 80 percent of us who can ill afford an increased burden.
It's no wonder Proposition 202 is supported financially by many CEOs and a former chair of the Arizona Republican Party. They're the ones who normally champion tax cuts for the wealthy--exactly what this pledge attempts to achieve. When these people say they want to help the "little guy," we'd better watch our wallets.