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December 23, 2003

A Taxpayer Wish List for 2004 from NTU

Mother may have been right when she said, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." That said, it's still nice to look at the taxpayer-friendly wish list developed by the National Taxpayers Union, and see that the first item on their list is the Fair Tax, which would repeal the income and payroll taxes, as well as abolish the IRS. Rep. John Lindner (R) of Georgia now has 42 co-sponsors for his bill, which is H.R. 25. The Senate version, S. 1493, is sponsored by Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R), also from Georgia. Other taxpayer-friendly legislation on the NTU list includes H.R. 3220, which would establish a clear test to determine when states may collect business activity taxes and H.R. 3358, which would balance the federal budget by 2009, combat waste, fraud and abuse, and impose spending safeguards. We urge taxpayers to contact their federal legislators to urge them to sign on as co-sponsors of any, or, better yet, all of the legislation on NTU's 2004 taxpayer wish list.

December 22, 2003

Feel Overtaxed Now? Wait until the United Nations starts taxing you.

People who have been closely watching the Democratic presidential nominations know that Howard Dean (D) repeatedly promises to repeal the Bush (R) tax cuts. That's bad, but wait until the U.N. becomes involved. In a very informative op-ed in today's Washington Times, which should really serve as a call-to-arms for those concerned with American sovereignty, Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, identifies a list of proposals aimed at redistributing more of the money of American taxpayers. One of them is an international tax organization. According to Mitchell, some think "it's unfair for America to have lower taxes than places such as France and Germany, especially if it means jobs and investment flee Europe's welfare states and come to America." That's not the worst, though. He adds, "the prize for the worst U.N. idea probably belongs to the proposal to give governments permanent taxing rights over emigrants. You see, the U.N. thinks it's unfair when talented people leave high-tax socialist nations and move places such as America."

December 19, 2003

What kind of a businessman is the Governor?

Both before and after his election, voters were told that Governor Warner (D)was a businessman. Presumably that was important so that he could bring his business acumen to bear on state government in order to make it more efficient. Rather than raise prices to increase sales revenues, a company can increase its profits by increasing sales. That's the point being made in an editorial in today's Richmond Times-Dispatch ("Why Not Sunday?"). According to the editorial, "Amid all the talk of the state's budget and the Governor's tax-revision plan . . . little has been said of two simple steps that might help ease the financial situation, at least at the margin." The two steps include first opening the ABC stores on Sunday since Sunday "has become the second biggest day for retail activity." An even bolder move would be to sell the ABC sales division, which the Wilder government-reform commission has already recommended. Unfortunately, neither step is even being discussed, which the paper says "makes one wonder what the state's leaders have been drinking."

December 16, 2003

Time to get PBS and NPR off the leftist gravy train?

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) was formed in 1967 -- long before the Internet, cable television, VCR, DVD, and DirectTV -- when there may have been some justification for providing tax subsidies for such voice and video programming. In a hard-hitting op-ed in yesterday's Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota, John Berthoud, president of the 350,000 member National Taxpayers Union, writes, "Tax dollars from wealthy, middle-income and lower-income Americans have gone to subsidize programming whose audiences is disproportionately upper-income. The time has come to end the gravy train of taxpayer dollars."

Voice your opposition to the use of your tax dollars for such programming by writing Virginia Senators John Warner or George Allen, or to Representative Jim Moran (contact information for the representatives are in yesterday's blog entry for the Internet access tax). You can also provide comments directly to PBS (follow the "PBS" hotlink).

The Governor's Plan to Raise Taxes: Is Someone Cooking the Books?

Back on December 3, ElGrowlerGrande raised the question of whether Governor Warner's (D) plan to raise taxes was a lot of smoke and mirrors. After studying Paul Goldman's column, "White Men Can't Jump" at Bacon's Rebellion, the conclusion one draws is that they can sure cook the books. The story's lead reads, "the fun stuff is front-end loaded while the bad stuff comes after (the governor's) gone." As the Growler noted on December 3, the governor is betting on convincing 65% of Virginians that they will "pay less in their overall tax burden." Goldman admirably points out, though, that a lot of that burden will be removed through elimination of the car tax, which won't occur until Fiscal Year 2008. Furthermore, he points out, the money for the car tax payments will go to the governor's political base in Northern Virginia, and will come from the sales tax and cigarette tax, "which fall disproportionately on less affluent, largely rural Virgnians." This is why, Goldman says, the Roanoke Times calls the governor's plan "anti-rural."

December 15, 2003

Ban on Internet access tax dead for this year

According to a November 26 story in the Chicago Sun-Times, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D) has been told that nothing will happen this year on the bill he was sponsoring "to permanently ban taxes on Internet access." As the Sun-Times noted, "The ban, first passed in 1998, prevents state and local governments from taxing Internet access services" and "also limits state and local governments' ability to levey taxes that target Internet commerce." Concerned Arlington taxpayers are encourage to contact:

U. S. Senator John W. Warner (R) [ senator@warner.senate.gov ]

U. S. Senator George Allen (R) [ http://allen.senate.gov/email.html ]

U. S. Representative James P. Moran (D) [ jim.moran@mail.house.gov ]

The Sun-Times noted that Ohio Senator George Voinovich, at the behest of state and local governments, opposed extending the ban "saying it would curb states' authority to tax existing telecommunications services." When are the politicians going to begin worrying about taxpayers ability to pay taxes rather than worrying about the income of government?

When you write, tell them that ACTA asked you to contact them.

Will the Governor's Tax Reform Plan Improve Economic Growth?

Three weeks ago, Governor Warner (D) introduced his tax reform plan with great fanfare by jetting to three locations across Virginia in one day. Despite claiming that he would not raise taxes on numerous occasions over the past two years (see for example a recent Washington Times editorial), the plan will raise taxes by $1 billion. If sucking $1 billion out of the Virginia economy would help the economy grow, then perhaps raising taxes might be justified. However, that would do nothing but grow Virginia government. Using the work of George Mason Univesity economics professor Mark Crain, Jim Bacon, publisher of Bacon's Rebellion, concludes in his lead column on December 1, "Between Crain's research and the improving fiscal outlook, the case for a tax increase will get harder to make with each passing month. Virginia's tax system really isn't broken. Economic growth will generate revenues sufficient to address many, though not all of Virginia's pressing problems." Bacon notes that in Crain's recently published book, Volatile States, "the adjusted per capita income of Virginia residents increased by an average of 1.97 percent per year. That was the seventh-fastest growth rate among the 50 states. If Virginians per capita income had grown at the average rate (1.53%), over the past 30 years, Virginians would be earning between 13% and 14% less than they do now. On this basis alone, it seems, Governor Warner and Senator John Chichester (R), who by many reports supports raising taxes, should not risk the long-term growth of Virginia's economy.

December 03, 2003

The Governor's Tax Plan: Smoke and Mirrors?

Last week, Governor Warner (D) unveiled his long-in-the-making plan to increase Virginia taxes. ACTA members can certainly expect Growls to have much more to say about the details of the plan after we start looking under the hood. The General Assembly is expected to spend most of it's "long session" in 2004 digesting the tax restructuring. Right now, the govenor is jetting around the state telling anyone who will listen that only the rich will be paying more taxes under his plan. How else to describe the constant emphasis that "65% Pay Less?" When Governor Warner lobbied on behalf of increasing Virginians' taxes by more than $1 billion at Falls Church's Italian Cafe on November 25, he used a black felt tip pen to write "Tax reduced for 65% of Virginians" on a white board for all the press and an "invitation only" crowd to see and to assure the story would get the proper spin on the nightly TV news and in the next day's print reporting. Is the governor overselling his "65% solution?" According to one informed source, "Sixty-five Spells Defeat." In an op-ed for Spectator.org, J. Pepper Bryars. a press secretary and speechwriter for Alabama Governor Bob Riley, takes on "the notion of further shifting the cost of government from the many to the few." He notes that Alabama voters recently defeated by a 2-1 margin a plan to increase their taxes by more than $1 billion even though tax proponents promised that "70% of Alabamians will pay less." Watch this space for more on Governor Warner's plan to increase your taxes.