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.
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.
A recent court ruling could make direct tax incentives illegal. The time-honored tradition of brokering specialized tax deals to lure companies to locate or expand in one state over another could finally be coming to an end. "The economic war among the states," as Minneapolis Fed research director Art Rolnick describes it, could be over.
"Desert tourism meccas" like Phoenix, Tucson, Palm Springs and Las Vegas may be "thriving," as an Arizona Republic headline suggests, but they are not all thriving alike.
In a detailed review of the four desert oases, the Republic covered nearly every eccentricity that defines the character of each destination, save one: taxes.