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>

Governor Napolitano’s “targeted tax relief” plan is targeted indeed’"it rewards a few groups, on a few days, and only for certain behaviors.

Who will get touched by the targeted tax-cut wand this year?

Hybrid-fuel car owners stand to benefit; the better the mileage, the bigger the tax cut. But, with a sticker price well over $20,000 for most hybrids, this certainly won’t provide relief for lower income Arizonans.  Nor will it help a family who needs a new minivan or a construction worker who buys a new truck.

California pulled in $71.5 billion tourist dollars, while Arizona managed "only" $10.5 billion, six times less, and ranked 17 in the nation, according to the Travel Industry Association of America's annual report. The Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau has already used the report as an occasion to call for more taxpayer money to promote the state.

Arizonans paid $2.5 billion in income taxes in 2005, up 34 percent from the last year. What should the state legislature do with the unexpected $700 million? Senate Minority Leader Linda Aguirre, among others, is eager to "invest in Arizona" in other words, let government spend it.

Here's another option: Return it.

A new Arizona ballot initiative would raise taxes on a pack of cigarettes by 80 cents, making ours the fourth-highest cigarette tax in the nation.  The state would use the estimated $150 million a year to pay for a variety of new children's programs. Setting aside the merits, or demerits, of the programs themselves, the funding scheme is plain unfair.

Corporate giving is up.  In Arizona, Michael Jedlowski, president of Southwestern Furniture Company, will give away 10 households full of furniture to needy families. He's also donated over $500,000 to Phoenix Children's Hospital to help with its neonatal intensive care unit. And it all happened without a government program.   

September's spike in gas prices, the result of Hurricane Katrina devastating Gulf Coast oil facilities, has some Arizonans demanding the state crack down on high prices. Arizona attorney general Terry Goddard has promised to introduce anti-gouging legislation next year.

"Pump price increases this week of 30 cents or more a gallon in this state are not justified by Hurricane Katrina or the higher cost of crude oil," Goddard said. "Consumers deserve more protection from this kind of profiteering."

I couldn't have said it better myself. As my predecessor Tom Jenney, vice chairman of the Arizona Federation of Taxpayers, writes:

What do Florida, Nevada, and Texas have in common (besides the heat)?

A. They are among nine states without an income tax.
B. Since 1990 they have seen twice the job and population growth of states with the highest income taxes.
C. All of the above.

If you answered C, you'd be right. Unfortunately, Arizona is the odd man out.

The recent monsoons are not all that's soaking Arizonans. Arizona politicians, responsible for a 12 percent increase in state spending this year, soaked taxpayers for 17 percent more tax revenue this year than last.

Tax relief is long overdue, and Arizona's income taxes should be a prime target.

Hotel and rental car taxes are like the sunburn after a vacation, reminding tourists that the fun is over and there's a price to pay.

While a little aloe vera helps a painful sunburn, there's not much relief for tourists suffering vacation bills made more expensive by local governments seeking more tax revenue.

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