We retired Tax Justice Blog in April 2017. For new content on issues related to tax justice, go to www.justtaxesblog.org
The Pennsylvania legislature just sent a bill to Governor Corbett that would allow most companies to keep the income tax payments they withhold from their employees as a kind of reward for having hired them. Normally, of course, those tax dollars would go to pay for the public services all Pennsylvanians, including the workers, rely on. As Sen. Jim Ferlo argues, “All of sudden we’re waylaying those employees’ wages, almost akin to Jesse James robbing a bank, and we’re going to put it back in the pockets of one company, in one locale, in one county, in one jobsite.” This type of tax break is not uncommon, and it’s explained in Good Jobs First’s “Paying Taxes to the Boss.”
The Olympian editorializes against Washington State’s Initiative 1185, the newest attempt by anti-tax activist Tim Eyman to empower a small minority of legislators to block the closing of any tax loophole. The proposal is known as a “supermajority requirement,” since it would require approval by two-thirds of each legislative chamber to enact any revenue-raising tax change. But as the editorial explains, “A supermajority gives unprecedented and undemocratic powers to the minority in just one area: tax increases. Lawmakers who oppose a tax proposal get twice the voting power of those who support it.”
Iowa tax revenues appear to be on the rise, but instead of using that money to fill in gaps after years of “starv[ing] state government” or, say, restoring anti-poverty tax credits like the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Governor Terry Branstad is pushing for proposals that will “dramatically” reduce both personal and corporate income tax rates. This is par for the course with Governor Branstad. He has a history of prioritizing the wrong tax cuts while vetoing those for working families, like an expanded state EITC.
Looking for evidence that states shouldn’t heavily depend on cigarette tax (PDF) revenues as a stable source of revenue? Check out this Clarion Ledger article which reports that “per capita consumption of cigarettes — 67.9 packs a person in 2011 — is the lowest it’s ever been in Mississippi.” Thanks to federal and state tax increases, tax revenues have actually increased, but as fewer and fewer Mississippians smoke, those cigarette tax revenues are bound to decline as well.
In a recent survey, conducted by the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University, Kansans said they would rather see property tax cuts than income tax cuts. This finding isn’t surprising given the unpopularity (PDF) of regressive property taxes. Earlier this year, however, Kansas lawmakers did the opposite and passed sweeping reductions to the income tax. The Institute’s Director said it was clear that, “the tax structure [Kansans] want seems to be completely the opposite of the tax policies coming from the Legislature.”