Saturday, June 14, 2008

Debating sales taxes but treating the flag with respect

People can get excited about how the flag is treated. I was surprised to read that anyone in Malheur County, Oregon, is lapsing in that regard. Still, for some I’d guess it’s not so easy to find money for a new one.

But that's not what's really bothering people in Ontario. It’s any plan to raise taxes that can really get people going. Currently, letter writers and bloggers at The Argus Observer site are getting very irritated with each other over a proposal to raise the sales tax one percent. I wouldn’t use some of the names they call each other, but you can read them at the link below.

Tax debates are as old as this country, as we all well know. I recently uncovered a clipping that shows how, at the end of 1946, the Ontario Argus reacted to a state plan to raise revenue. The problem then, statewide, was much the same as the problem in Ontario today. The state and its counties, cities and school systems were looking for an additional $8 million to $12 million. The Argus editorialist at the time liked some of the ideas for adjusting the tax structure in hopes of raising the money. And others not so much.

Here’s how the newspaper then responded to five of the revenue raising ideas:

1. Abandon the property tax as a source of state revenue. The Argus then said: “Since counties, cities and school districts have no other direct source of revenue, this suggestion has merit.”

2. Lower exemptions under the state personal income tax producing an estimated $4 million in additional revenue. The Argus then said: “Hardly in tune with the times. Low income people are having tough sledding.”

3. Levy a business excise tax of one and one half percent for an estimated $7.5 million in additional revenue. The Argus then said, “Don’t be kidded. It will be passed on to the consumer, but what tax isn’t? If the revenue is needed, this is better than a sales tax.”

4. Eliminate the tax on tangible personal property. The Argus then said, “That would suit us fine personally, but it reduces total revenue instead of adding to it.”

5. Tax cigarettes and tobacco, amusements and soft drinks, and increase the motor vehicle tax. The Argus then said: “Amen, except for the last item if it is proposed to divert any motor vehicle tax from road and street purposes.”

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