Looking for tax revenue in all the wrong places: Kasich

The changes to taxes and distribution under the Kasich administration has had devastating effect on local governments. Most are scrambling to replace revenue that used to come from the “local government fund” and the windfalls of the inheritance tax used to prop up some communities that wouldn’t exist had it not been for wealthy residents kicking the bucket and consequently kicking in millions to the general fund:

That unpredictability has been most palpable in Elizabeth Twp. The Miami County township received $16.1 million in 1999 and $20.7 million in 2002 in estate tax revenues, both linked to the estate of Yellow Pages magnate John W. Berry.

That immense revenue is in stark contrast to other years – 2003, 2006 and 2009, for example – in which Elizabeth Twp. received no estate tax revenue.

via Communities find losing estate tax money painful.

Shifting tax burdens is never easy, and almost always, someone gets hurt more than others. In general, taxes are able to be classified as progressive- as in the tax increases on those that have more- or regressive, as the tax affects those with less more. Sales tax is considered a regressive tax by most accounts- and due to the digital divide, it has become even more regressive- many internet shoppers don’t pay a sales tax when buying from companies that don’t have operations out of Ohio (Amazon being a prime example). Now, our governor wants to “lower the sales tax” but increasing the number of things it is applied to. I remember being shocked when I moved to Georgia as a teen and finding that groceries carried a sales tax- something Ohio deems an essential and excludes.

Kasich wants to lower the state sales tax rate by half a percentage point, lower local sales tax rates by varying amounts and expand eligible goods and services to generate about $3 million over three years. Revenues from sales tax and higher taxes on oil and gas extracted from Ohio soil would fuel across-the-board income tax cuts.

via Changes to Kasich tax plan.

In my business, advertising, the only thing I charge sales tax on is the printing of business cards, letterheads and envelopes. Anything that’s considered advertising- is exempt. It has always seemed a little odd to me. However, with Kasich’s sweeping sales tax expansion, all we’re doing is shifting taxes around to be collected under a different vehicle. Instead of one kind of tax, we’re going to another. Sales tax depends on businesses to self-report and collect, whereas other taxes are collected by the government. Tracking tax liability in all cases requires monitoring and collecting and with these sweeping changes, many businesses will have added expense, complexity and be subject to fines (haircuts are pretty much a necessity, much like food and medical care, yet will no longer be excluded. When Joe Hairdresser doesn’t file properly, the state can send an estimated tax bill that would far exceed the real liability, never mind how much hair is cut on a cash basis).

Of course, since our governor is a former Wall Street banker, a very needed tax isn’t being considered- the Wall Street transaction tax. This video explaining the “Robin Hood tax” as they are calling it in the UK makes it very clear where there is room for a new tax that would have benefits of slowing down a wild Wall Street’s programmed trading and volatility that has hurt us all:

Yes, I understand this isn’t a tax that Governor Kasich can levy, but it would be a start to protecting public pensions, investments and ordinary citizens’ retirements from the fake economy created by churning fiat paper that is so weakly linked to actual company performance. Kasich has no problem taxing casino revenue- but, our country hasn’t addressed the biggest casino of them all- Wall Street. Here is a brief bit about what the transaction tax would do from the New York Times:

On this side of the Atlantic, there is a ghostly silence on a transaction tax in respectable political quarters. But that might change. This month, Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, and Representative Peter DeFazio, Democrat of Oregon, plan to reintroduce their bill calling for just such a tax.

A transaction tax could raise a huge amount of money and cause less pain than many alternatives. It could offset the need for cuts to the social safety net or tax increases that damage consumer demand. How huge a sum? Mr. Harkin and Mr. DeFazio got an estimate from the bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, which scores tax plans. It’s a hearty one: $352 billion over 10 years.

The money would come from a tiny levy. The bill calls for a three-basis-point charge on most trades. A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point. So it amounts to 3 cents on every $100 traded.

And the bill contains some exemptions intended to make the tax more politically palatable. The first sales of stocks (initial public offerings) and bonds are exempted, so that the markets’ capital-raising function isn’t harmed. Initial investments and withdrawals from tax-protected accounts, like retirement or education funds, also have a measure of protection.

via Time to Revive the Financial Transaction Tax – NYTimes.com.

With the growing economic divide in the United States the last thing we need to increase is a regressive tax like the sales tax while leaving other areas like Wall Street virtually exempt from taxation- where even the revenue generated is taxed at a lower rate.

The one big question I have about the new Ohio sales tax reduction is: Will the counties and RTA all get a windfall from their sales tax overrides (Montgomery County and RTA currently collect an extra 1% on sales taxes) that will now extend to more goods and services? I’ve missed the details on this part- if so, local governments will probably fall in line to support it, just out of pure necessity thanks to Kasich’s other tax cuts that have devastated their financial base.

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