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>

The late Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan quipped that everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts. Policymakers and pundits would do well to heed Moynihan's wisdom when they enter the fray over expanding school choice with charters, vouchers or tax credits.

Opponents of school choice regularly assert, as if it were proven fact, that choice does nothing to help students who get to choose and harms students who remain in traditional public schools.

Conservatives and some top business activists want to bring a controversial set of anti-tax laws and government spending caps to Arizona.

The National Federation of Independent Business, Goldwater Institute think tank and a group of conservative Republican state lawmakers want to import a package of anti-tax laws from Colorado.

The Taxpayers Bill of Rights, or TABOR, would limit taxes by restricting spending growth to population gains and inflation. Surplus revenue collected above those spending caps would be refunded to taxpayers or put into a rainy day fund.

So, some of our politicians want a new state law against price gouging. While I'm not arguing that consumers who paid $3.99 per gallon a couple of weeks ago to fill their tanks didn't pay a pretty penny, my guess is that those station owners will pay dearly in the weeks and months to come as motorists with long memories of that hot day in August just drive on by that particular station.

A commission appointed by Gov. Janet Napolitano is looking at tax reforms and exemptions are fast becoming the most intense point of contention between businesses and their adversaries at the State Capitol.

The Citizens Finance Review Commission is scheduled to present its recommendations to the governor in October and is receiving strong pressure to eliminate various business tax exemptions and credits. Arizona's tax code offers credits and exemptions to dozens of business activities and transactions.

One of Arizona's most prominent conservative Republicans told her colleagues Friday it's time to consider new taxes to end the state budget crisis and avoid a political trouncing by Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano.

Gov.-elect Napolitano wisely is appointing a commission to study the state's budget crisis. Gov.-elect Janet Napolitano is wisely appointing a commission to identify budget waste and make recommendations for budget cuts during this economic crisis.

Such a commission, if bipartisan and knowledgeable about the ways of government, can do much to guide the Legislature through the taxes and spending quagmire of the next legislative session.

It won't be easy. Most estimates put the budget shortfall for the next fiscal year at about $1 billion.

By Charles Goyette

Speaking of the legislature: You can call me suspicious, you can even call me unduly suspicious, but you can't call me asleep at the switch. The Goldwater Institute, that does so much good work here in the state, has put together a forum on tax and spending limitations.

There's plenty of talk in the national media about state and local governments dreaming up long Christmas lists to try and make a grab for their share of federal stimulus spending.

Increasing the federal gas tax to shore up the nation's bridges will not make American drivers safer. But better planning and prioritization of existing transportation funds could. The Transportation Dept. spends about $60 billion per year, and the federal Highway Trust Fund takes in about $40 billion from current gas taxes. There is plenty of money in this $100 billion pot to fund bridge maintenance.

The current national debate proves one thing: Policymakers know how to spend our money, but they have no idea how to invest it.

The good news is you have until midnight Tuesday to file your tax return. The bad news is that you probably spent an inordinate amount of time and money preparing it. But if you believe nothing can be done about this, you may be wrong.

An ideal system of taxation would be simple and transparent. Reasonably conscientious payers could comply with assurance that they had paid the correct amount. The tax itself would inflict minimal economic damage. Tax avoidance would have little impact on business and personal decisions.