Arthur Schaper: Rhode Island General Assembly: Lower My Taxes!
Friday, November 01, 2013
GoLocalProv's John Hazen could not have put it better (and with quotes from Art Buchwald, who can complain?): Rhode Island needs a better tax structure. He identified one rich opportunity for making Rhode Islanders rich: repeal the sales tax.
No More Sales Tax?
This move makes more sense, since Rhode Islanders can cross the border into (slightly) more tax friendly Massachusetts or Connecticut. You lucky Rhode Islanders. The nearby states of Arizona and Nevada have skimped on the sales tax, but no way am I going to drive five hundred miles to save a little change.
I have a better idea: how about no taxes at all? I tried out that idea with my state senator. "I'll look into it," he promised, yet only after accepting an award for his humanitarian efforts on behalf of animals. People are people, too! I explained. And they vote!
Of course, getting rid of taxes is not going to happen, especially with pension reforms about to go under, and public projects underfunded or undone. But really, the state is running out of money, and fast.
The Rhode Island Federal Transportation Fund is set to run out of money by 2015, and aside from the funds set aside for the Providence Aqueduct, the bridges and roads in Rhode Island are set to break down and go away (as in for good). Roger Williams would be unable to wend his way to Providence today (then again, he probably could not afford to live in his colony any, on account of the taxes).
As most hypermajority Democratic states resort to raising taxes on everything that moves, more people are moving to avoid the taxes. Such a system of tax now, pay never is never going to pay out in the long run. 24,000 people have left the state in the last ten years, and with their absence comes the absence of much needed tax revenue.
Rhode Island takes its tax taking very seriously, by the way, and for this I am impressed (or rather, intimidated).
After a quick Google search, I found Rhode Island's Division of Taxation. Seriously? In California, we have a Board of Equalization, but this elected committee functions according to a general mandate to make sure that no one is paying too much on their gas, or other sales taxes. We are paying a little more gas this year, which makes a difference in a state where Los Angeles Country is larger than the entire state of Rhode Island.
- Businesses must pay a litter fee every year. For the cats and the kits? No for the trash, and the thrash.
- Oh, and businesses have to pay $500 a year just for being a business in Rhode Island. Because you have to pay to be in business in Rhode Island, it doesn't.
- Rhode Islanders have to pay taxes on their unemployment checks. More people are unemployed, and even they cannot escape the tax man. True, in California men and women sometimes have to pay taxes on their unemployment, but only after the first several thousand. You can't find work, and even then you still have to pay. Maybe it's a perverse incentive to get back to work -- or to leave the state.
Governor Chafee even suggested taxing the following items, too: raise the restaurant tax. People love their calamari, I am sure (The General Assembly voted it the state delicacy), but do they want the tentacles of the state eating them while eating octopus/squid feet of their own? It never ceases to amaze me: let's raise taxes on one set of goods while ignoring another set.
Advocates for Sales Tax Repeal
Beyond John Hazen, Forbes Magazine (*puff *puff) has entered the financial fray, and declared that Rhode Island has one of the most regressive tax structures in the country. The rich man's magazine champions the repeal of the 7% Ocean State sales tax. Why? Because the tax taxes the poor more than any other group of people. By eliminating the levy, Rhode Island can draw back fleeing businesses and consumers, along with staying competitive in Little Rhody with Big Taxes. And The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity has also pressed for the elimination of the state sales tax. They informed me first-hand that the tax hurts poor people, of which I imagine there are many, too many.
Final Plea to the General Assembly
Now, I have to admit that my plea to the Rhode Island General Assembly is also a bit selfish. Here in California, Democrats dominate the statehouse (by a bare supermajority, though, which may slip away if a local special election Assembly race falls to a Republican candidate.
Now, I figure that if ultra-liberal Rhode Island lowers their taxes (or eliminates them entirely), then my legislators will have no excuse for not taking down mine. I once asked for Governor Chafee's help, but now I appeal to the state legislature.
Rhode Island General Assembly: Lower My Taxes!
Do your state (and me) a huge favor.
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter @ArthurCSchaper, reach him at email@example.com, and read more at Schaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.
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