Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Earth to Florida: You Need an Income Tax

This week’s callous budget slashing and the downright laughable property tax “cut-reform” mess merely illustrate what 43 of the United States already know: Florida needs a state income tax, a graduated, progressive income tax. It seems so obvious if you’re not rich like 90% of the people in this state: taxes should be based on one’s ability to pay. It’s doable if you have the political will. Even the most Republican state of all has an income tax (and property taxes to boot): Utah. If I were Governor, I’d go all out to enact an income tax and this week I’d be proposing a budget that increases state spending by a billion dollars, not slashing it one billion. The money would go to phase out property taxes, fund high quality socialized early education for all two, three and four year olds, class size reductions and parent training courses for all high school students and all other imminent parents.

Check out this amazing table of the state income tax rates:
My favorite state is recently Republican Ohio. The second tax rate is mine, the modifications I would submit to the legislature and arm twist, and offer carrots and make deals, and tour the entire state and visit every editorial board and TV and radio station to get passed. The rates are for heads of households on taxable income.
$Zero to $5,000 .68% .5%
$5,000-$10,000 1.36% 1.25%
$10,000-$15,000 2.7% $2.5%
$15,000-$20,000 3.4% $3.25%
$20,000-$40,000 4.08% 4%
$40,000-$80,000 4.76% 5%
$80,000-$100,000 5.44% %6
$100,000-200,000 6.3% 9%
$200,000+ 6.8% 12%

I’d add a 15% bracket for over $300,000, but remember, I’d be abolishing property taxes. Taxes should be based on ability to pay, not the market value of a house or building that has no relation to the owner’s current income or revenue. California had a 13% top bracket for a long time, until the Republicans slashed it to 9.3% when they got power, but it’s still the highest in the nation. Massachusetts taxes capital gains at 12%.An income tax is a no brainer. It’s not debatable. What is debatable is how we enact it in this state. So I hereby announce my second project, The Florida Income Tax Project (my first was The Florida Anti-Terror Project). I’ll be setting up a site. Comment if you are interested in participating in it. It’ll all be obvious. We need to conduct a little research, crunch some numbers, come up with the rationales, talking points, etc. Put together a coalition. Then we launch a public information campaign. We’ll hold panel discussions in each major city, lobby key columnists and meet with editorial boards. We’ll get it done. Now. Utah did. Easy. Day 30.