, Salem, MA


March 8, 2014

Letter: Graduated tax can be effective


The real question that is being ignored at the altar of “Taxes bad, Liberals badder” is the question of what do we as a state want to purchase with our tax dollars. That question must be answered first. Second, in what manner do we collect those taxes. Right now we use a wide variety of taxes, sales tax, income tax, user fees, real estate taxes, luxury taxes, sin taxes, estate taxes and of course the ever-popular gambling.

Fairness is not a requirement in determining a rate of taxation. The reason is very simple, fairness is a subjective term and taxes, if anything are objective. So, the overall method(s) of taxation can be looked at this way. How does the state collect sufficient taxes to cover all the items we want the state to purchase? Last, but very, very critical is the additional rubric that is often used instead of, or mistaken for, fairness. That rubric is that any tax should have the least impact possible on first the economic welfare of taxed individual and that impact should positively impact the economic health of the state.

Historic and economic analysis has shown that a graduated income tax does meet those goals. One critical potential outcome of a graduated income tax is that if it is aggressive enough, it can create pressure on the salary structure to reduce income inequality. Which is an indicator of economic stagnation.

Ask some teachers, ask a cop or a firefighter they will all tell you the state and its communities are not providing them with the resources in money and equipment they need to do their job. Ride the roads, ride the T or a bike; our infrastructure is disintegrating. Obviously, the current taxation system is not up to the task. Just because the voters rejected a change 20 years ago is not a good reason to not re-examine the issue. In fact, instead of just reviewing income taxes, we should also periodically examine our tax methods. Perhaps it is time to retire the sales tax?

Brad Sandler


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