Tuesday, April 9, 2013 | 2:01 a.m.
It’s only nickels and dimes, the tax man says. With the new gas tax increase proposal in the Legislature, Senate Bill 377, it’s only pennies. Therein lies the problem. Every time something changes in our environment, another special tax must be increased or a new one added. Ostensibly, taxes are used to promote the common good.
Unfortunately, they don’t come from one common source. In a perfect world, everyone benefits from how tax money is spent on roads, sewers, police, fire, education, health or government. Government constantly tries to micro-manage tax adjustments either in an attempt to recoup lost revenue because people buy very fuel-efficient vehicles or for some perceived looming emergency, like failing roads, or storm and sewer drains. Government needs to rein in the catch-me-if-you-can approach to taxation and consolidate as many revenue-generation requirements as possible by moving fuel, vehicle registration and many other taxes into the property tax base.
Fuel taxes are a great example. It doesn’t matter if you rent and use public transportation or are rich and drive several luxury cars; everyone benefits from our infrastructure, roads, bridges and traffic control systems. Property taxes are set and collected according to means. In general, those who rent pay (indirectly) far less than property owners with significant wealth.
Consolidation of our tax base is good economic policy and allows everyone to see more clearly how much revenue is being collected and where it is being spent. The problem facing consolidation is more about the politics and less about the policy.