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Guest MINDSETTER™ Berwick: Tax Reform in Rhode Island

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


To improve Rhode Island’s economy, Rhode Island's sales tax rate should be reduced to 3% on all taxable items and services rendered and that food, clothing and boats shall be included in the list of taxable items. One low, broad based sales tax rate will save every business time and money. Business at jewelry stores, hotels, restaurants, taxi cab companies, automobile dealerships, dog groomers, shopping malls and department stores would greatly increase. The sale of big ticket items would skyrocket. A low income family would save $200.00 on the purchase of a $5000.00 used car and save 4% on all other purchases.  An upper income family would save $1.600.00 on the purchase of a new SUV. A wealthy person would pay $30,000.00 on the purchase of a million dollar boat. State sales tax revenue would increase because the number of items sold and services rendered would increase. Employment and income tax revenue would increase because of the increased business activity.  

Next, Rhode Island should increase funding for education to a point where local communities can reduce their property taxes by 15%.  Instead of spending large amounts of tax dollars giving tax breaks, grants in aid and low interest guaranteed loans to a few lucky companies, it would be more productive for Rhode Island to spend an extra 200 million dollars each year on education and lower the property taxes for every Rhode Island business and for every Rhode Island homeowner by 15%.  In addition, Rhode Island should reduce its income tax rate, its corporate tax rate and its capital gains tax rate by 10%.

When the above steps are completed, many businesses would expand or move to Rhode Island. Many families would move to Rhode Island to take advantage of the low income taxes, the low corporate taxes, the low capital gains taxes, the low sales taxes and the low property taxes. This increase in Rhode Island’s population would prevent the loss of a seat in the United States House of Representatives.  In addition, employment would rise, home foreclosures would drop and property values would increase.   Funds would be available to repair and replace Rhode Island’s structurally deficient bridges without borrowing and no tax credits, tax rebates or subsidies to shipping companies would be required.

Lastly, Rhode Island should take over the distribution and sale of tobacco products. Private companies should not be selling these products that when used according to directions cause sickness and death. Rhode Island should provide these services and use the taxes and profits produced from the sale of these products to improve the lives of all the residents of Rhode Island. Tobacco products would only be sold in vending machines located inside or outside the thousands of stores and other businesses in Rhode Island.  These products would be sold by the carton and payment would have to be made with a personal credit card. The use of tobacco products by children would be greatly reduced and funds to fully fund healthcare, education and road repair would become available to the state of Rhode Island.  Local car taxes would no longer be needed and the illegal sale of tobacco products to children would be eliminated.

If the sale and possession of marijuana is legalized in Rhode Island, it should be regulated the same way that tobacco products are regulated. Rhode Island would control the amount, type, quality, strength and price of the marijuana products sold in Rhode Island. These products would be sold in vending machines owned and services by the state of Rhode Island and payment would made by a personal credit card. These products would be available for the private recreational use of adults.  People would not be allowed to grow marijuana or gather in public places to use marijuana products. The illegal sale of marijuana products in Rhode Island would be eliminated because legal Rhode Island marijuana products would be cheaper, safer and available at thousands of locations in Rhode Island.    

Kenneth Berwick of Smithfield, RI Served three years in the United States Marine Corps from 1954-1957. Berwick is a retired teacher with a BA from RIC in 1960 and a Masters from Syracuse in 1969.


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