Tax Reform

Americans are a hard-working bunch and should keep what they earn. Our ideas for tax reform reduce the burden of taxes while ensuring governments have the resources to focus on core responsibilities.

<p>Americans are a hard-working bunch and should keep what they earn. Our ideas for tax reform reduce the burden of taxes while ensuring governments have the resources to focus on core responsibilities. </p>

Fourteen years ago, I supported the Taxpayers Bill of Rights and I still support it today.

When it passed in 1992, it was a revolutionary measure in Colorado to ensure that the state's budget didn't grow too big or too fast. It worked then, and it still works today.

In her Jan. 31 column ("Colo. found danger of skating on bill's too thin ice"), transplanted Colorado columnist Billie Stanton lectured Arizonans about the supposedly dire consequences of forcing legislators to live within a budget.

Maricopa County residents appear ready and willing to keep taxing themselves for improved transportation, according to The Arizona Republic Poll. But simmering questions over the value of light rail could still threaten the $15.8 billion plan.

"Basically, I have no objection to a tax for transportation," said Scottsdale resident William Eikner, 72. "I have an objection to some of the parts of the plan. The light rail is really a boondoggle."

Eikner isn't alone.

Independence Day weekend is a good time to assess just how far we've come since the colonists finally had it up to here with Mother England's tyrannical tax policies. This also happens to be the first weekend of the state's new fiscal year, and tyranny is in the offing once again - only it goes by the name "tax reform."

The Goldwater Institute wants to replace the state's existing tax code-including its progressive income tax-with a flat tax.

The economically conservative think tank released a new study June 9 advocating a trio of possible 3 percent flat taxes to replace current state taxes on income and consumption.

Stephen Slivinski, a Goldwater economist and author of the report, will take his flat-tax message to lawmakers and a blue-ribbon gubernatorial commission considering tax reform proposals that could come up in 2004.

What do a couple hundred Arizona conservatives do for fun on a Friday night-well, besides watch the Fox News Channel?

On March 28, they were at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort rallying for the elimination of federal income taxes.

A good bit of the state's conservative Republican establishment attended a dinner and fund-raiser supporting Americans for Fair Taxation. The Houston-based group lobbies for eliminating progressive federal income taxes and replacing them with a flat 23 percent national sales tax. The proposal would give those under the poverty line tax rebates.

Under the Dome

PHOENIX - A report prepared for a Phoenix think tank that opposes Proposition 303 concluded Monday that a 60 percent increase in taxes on cigarettes would lead to an increase in smuggling and would drain police resources.

Robert Levy, a scholar with the Washington, D.C.-based Cato Institute, argues in his analysis of the measure that the tobacco tax would encourage black markets and keep the Department of Public Safety busy combing the back roads of Arizona looking for contraband cigarettes.

The numbers cited by Marty Latz to justify higher cigarette taxes ("Yes on Prop. 303: Make Smokers Pay Their Share," Sept. 13) are grossly misleading.

Latz states that "it costs Arizona $8.35 per pack" for smoking-related health costs. He compares that number with the current 58-cent per pack cigarette tax, then concludes that nonsmokers are paying most of smokers' health costs.

Latz fails to distinguish between private and public outlays; he treats all costs as if they were incurred by the state.

Study Says Lower Rates Would Boost State, Economy

Corporate tax rates in Arizona should be reduced to make the state more attractive to businesses, according to a study by a conservative Phoenix-based public policy group.

Arizona's top corporate income tax rate is 6.97 percent, higher than Utah, Colorado and Nevada, but lower than California and New Mexico, which have graduated rate systems, the Goldwater Institute said in a report.

The proposed 60-cent tax increase per pack of cigarettes is a desperate attempt to help Arizona out of its financial mess at smokers' expense, opponents say.

Proponents tout it as the ticket to save lives and keep kids from tobacco.

"Smokers are an easy target to fill the state's treasury," said Darcy Olsen, executive director of the Goldwater Institute. "It's not fair to single out smokers. Everybody should then be taxed to carry the burden of providing health care to the poor."