The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Thursday, October 13, 2005

More Stinson

Roddy's wrong again:

Sometimes I forget that not every reader has followed the "logic" presented here for 30 years. So permit me to repeat:

1. The answer to the state's education problems is NOT "more money."

There is no shortage of state revenue, but a shortage of the kind of fiscal discipline and political courage required to eliminate the gross prodigality within the public education system. (Such prodigality has been documented and discussed here time and time again.)

2. For the sake of this discussion, let's assume that someday a political miracle will occur, voters will send responsible/brave legislators to Austin, and they will eliminate public-school fat and waste. Wouldn't a personal income tax be the best way to fund the state's new lean, mean education machine?

I say "no." Here is my logic:

Hundreds of millions of dollars currently paid by out-of-state corporate and private (and mostly wealthy) property owners would be lost if an income tax reduced property taxes. That revenue from wealthy out-of-staters would have to be replaced with money collected from Texans.

A significant percentage of the state's sales-tax revenue comes from purchases of goods and services by out-of-state visitors. Lowering and/or capping that tax would increase the percentage of revenue coming from Texans' pockets to the benefit, again, of non-Texans.

Income tax proponents love to bray that such a tax would sock it to the rich. But as any serious student of taxation knows, the wealthy (who would benefit greatly from a reduction in property taxes) would find ways to shelter their income, leaving middle-class Texans to shoulder most of the financial burden.

Yeah, you're right Roddy, since most rich people figure out how not to pay taxes (or as George W. Bush says, "real rich people figure out how to dodge taxes"), we shouldn't have any to begin with. Oh, and last time I checked Roddy, alot of rich people get away with a variety of crimes. You should start looking into the repeal of those laws.

What I don't really see is an argument here that an income tax would actually raise the amount of taxes that average Texan would pay. That's what would get a whole lot of conservatives riled up. Switching around taxes, so long as they're revenue neutral for their pocketbooks? Not so much.

Of course we really get to the meat of Roddy's problem here:

Every Texas taxpayer who believes that the national income tax is a model of equitable revenue production should side with income-tax proponents.

Any taxpayer who believes the national construct is unfair, inequitable and unjust can with some confidence assume that a state income tax would be equally flawed.

I count myself in the latter group.

And there it is. Roddy's big beef. Turns out, it has nothing to do with what goes on in Texas. If you want to see what a state income tax would look like, check out the rates of taxation of the 43 states (yup, us and six others don't have one) who do have a state income tax here.