Letter to the editor: Sales tax not fair
I read in the Feb. 13, 2005, Leavenworth Times that 54 percent of the people recently surveyed do not support the countywide 1 percent sales tax. With all the well-organized, high-profile spin advocating support of the sales tax, I am surprised at that large number in opposition.
However, I am convinced that if those most negatively affected would analyze the tax closely, the numbers in opposition would rise significantly. The sales tax is unquestionably the most regressive tax and falls the most disproportionately on the middle- to lower-income citizens. As incomes rise, the smaller and smaller percentage of income expended is subject to sales tax.
The higher the income, the greater the percentage of expenses that escape sales tax. Examples would be accounting, legal, medical, personal care, domestic help, air and cruise travel, investments, etc.
I consider it quite fair that the more value in property a person owns, the more of the direct proportion of the tax burden they should carry. A person owning $1 million of property certainly benefits 10 times the amount as a person only owning a $100,000 home. Examples of such benefits are streets, parks, fire and police protection, courts, schools, and all other local government services.
The argument is frequently made that everyone pays sales tax and visitors contribute to the expense of benefits they enjoy. That is true to an extent, but not at all in a fair or a significant proportion. Little if anything is ever mentioned of the business that the sales tax drives to mail orders, Internet, and the fort to escape payment of the tax. I also question the suggestion that visitors bring more tourist dollars into Leavenworth than residents take out.
I know it is always a perceived shock to see the increasing tax bill on homes each year.
But, any tax always removes consumption out of our shopping cart regardless of the source taxed. Do make yourself aware of and consider the differences and fairness of the sales tax vs. the property tax. Make yourself aware of what is at stake, your personal circumstances and do vote.
A fair tax will always be computed on a benefit received vs. the amount paid or the ability to pay. The sales tax is based on neither.