A ‘Green Tax’ Is Still A Bad Tax

November 11, 2008

My friend and former National Journal colleague Troy Schneider thinks there is a “smart way” to raise gas taxes — a “green tax swap” that offsets the higher tax on gases with a corresponding cut in the payroll tax.

I have three problems with that idea:

1) Gas taxes already are too high. Gasoline currently is selling for the bargain price of $1.97 a gallon in the section of suburban Virginia where my family lives, and the gas tax for our state is now 44.6 cents a gallon, according to the latest data from the American Petroleum Institute. That means 22.6 percent of every gallon we buy goes toward federal, state and local taxes. The percentage that went toward taxes was lower when prices were higher, but 45 cents a gallon is more than enough taxation.

2) Raising gas taxes won’t necessarily lower consumption. Troy argues that it will based on the fact that consumption has declined dramatically in recent months because of higher prices, and he is right to an extent. But think about how high prices had to go before consumers and businesses changed their behavior. I’m confident that a majority of politicians won’t support, and American voters won’t tolerate, a $2-a-gallon hike in the gas tax, and it took that much before the market forced gas prices down.

3) Payroll taxes won’t stay lower. Even if politicians were to make the swap of payroll taxes for a supposedly green-friendly gas tax, it wouldn’t last. The same politicians eventually will increase the payroll tax. As this blog proves, raising taxes is what they do. The inevitable result of a higher gas tax would be less money in the wallets of consumers, not a better environment.

4) Barack Obama promised tax CUTS. It has only been a week since America elected as president a man who ran as a tax-cutting Reaganite. Odds are good that Obama, like the last Democratic president who promised tax cuts but quickly gave us one of the largest increases in history, sold voters a bill of goods. But give the man a chance to keep his word. Don’t start pushing taxing ideas that will fall heavily on the lower and middle classes two-plus months before he even takes office.

The bottom line: There is no smart way to raise taxes.

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Have Fun In Jail, Melissa Etheridge

November 8, 2008

This blog exists because I hate paying taxes and hate even more the passion that so many politicians have for taking even more money out of my wallet. But as a Christian, I pay every penny of taxes I owe, whether to Uncle Sam, Aunt Virginia or their cousins across America.

That’s why I was a bit irritated to read that singer Melissa Etheridge, who had plans to marry her lesbian lover in California until the state voted this week to ban gay marriages, said she won’t pay a half-million dollars in taxes to the Golden State because she didn’t get her way at the ballot box.

Uh, excuse me, if everyone stops paying their taxes when democracy doesn’t work in their favor, nobody will pay taxes. That’s a recipe for anarchy, and it’s not a legal form of civil disobedience.

My guess is that Ms. Etheridge is all bluster. She’s making an idle threat to make a public point. But if not, she can say hello to convicted tax-evading actor Wesley Snipes when she ends up in the slammer.

Bailouts, Bailouts Everywhere

October 22, 2008

And rest assured that your taxes will go up eventually as the government keeps trying to save us from bankers who gave bad loans and greedy Americans who took them — and us — for every penny they could.

With that in mind, it’s worth your time to check out the new Web site BeyondBailouts.org. You can sign a petition against any more bailouts.

Take Me Out To The Tax Park

October 13, 2008

Via The Club For Growth, I learned this bit of tax news from Chicago:

Chicago sports fans, movie mavens, concertgoers and theater patrons will pay more to attend live events — and so will those who park their cars in garages and surface lots — under a $25 million revenue package tied to Mayor Daley’s 2009 budget.

Daley tied his own hands by promising to close a massive budget gap without raising property taxes on the heels of last year’s record $83.4 million increase.

But he didn’t promise to hold the line on all other taxes and fees.Today, aldermen were told that the city’s two-tiered amusement tax would be going up — from 4 [percent] to 5 percent for mid-sized venues and from 8 [percent] to 9 percent for large sporting venues.

Just another reminder that liberals will always find a way to raise some tax, or make up a new one, even when they promise to hold the line or cut others.

Don’t Vote For Tax Hikers

September 7, 2008

Consider yourself forewarned (from The Next Right, a group blog where I contribute on occasion):

Fiscal conservatives have reason to be alarmed leading up to November. The current political climate is such that populist Democrats are poised to make significant gains on Capitol Hill, while Republicans are frantically moving to the center in order to stay in office. This likely means an increase in your tax burden, and a perpetually expanding federal budget (which has nearly doubled since 1980).

And do something about it. Join and promote the “I Don’t Vote For Tax Hikers” campaign.

Taxing The Convention Crowd

August 14, 2008

Municipalities in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota know an opportunity to tax when they see one. The Republican convention will be held there in a few weeks, and some visitors in the area for the quadrennial political party will be paying more to experience the festivities.

I’ll be among them. I received a “special press” credential to cover the convention for AirCongress.com. I’ll also be covering it for my day job as the executive producer of Eyeblast.tv.

So today I received this e-mail tax warning from the Republican Party:

The Minnesota Department of Revenue recently issued a tax change that will affect your hotel stay. Beginning July 1, 2008, the Minneapolis metropolitan area counties of Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, and Washington imposed a 0.25% transit sales and use tax, which will be used to fund the area’s transit system including light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid transit. Due to this change, the tax rate listed on your hotel confirmation may not be accurate. Please refer to your hotel folio upon your arrival or departure for the accurate tax rate that will be applied to your stay.

Thanks, Minnesota.

Obama’s Tax-And-Spend Plans

July 8, 2008

From “The Morning Bell,” an e-mail newsletter of the Heritage Foundation:

According to the nonpartisan Annenberg Political Fact Check, Sen. Barack Obama’s tax plan would increase gross tax receipts by $103.3 billion in 2011 alone. That number by itself would make it the largest single-year tax increase in American history since World War II, and measured as a percentage of gross national product, it would be the fifth-largest tax increase since 1943.

Even with these record-breaking levels of taxing, Obama still would not be able to cover all of his promised increases in domestic spending. Commenting on Obama’s tax and spending plans, Clinton-era Office of Management and Budget official Idabel Sawhill tells the Los Angeles Times: “I don’t think it all adds up.”

Absorb all of that while you watch this great anti-tax spoof of an anti-war ad by MoveOn.org:

A Rush Of New Taxes For Limbaugh

July 3, 2008

Jealous liberal journalists who long to be richer than Rush Limbaugh have been falling all over themselves to criticize their conservative nemesis and the undisputed champion of talk radio the past couple of days.

Why? Because he just negotiated a contract renewal with Premiere Radio Networks, a subsidiary of Clear Channel Radio, that reportedly will net him $400 million over eight years, including a nine-figure signing bonus.

Why that’s a problem is beyond me. If Premiere didn’t think Limbaugh was worth it based on past performance, the company wouldn’t have made the deal. It’s the free market at work, and every liberal who is whining about the deal would take all that money and then some if offered it for doing their jobs.

Besides, every liberal should be celebrating the rush of taxes that will flow into government coffers thanks to Limbaugh.

The numbers are staggering any way you look at it. I asked Peter Sepp, vice president for policy and communications at the National Taxpayers Union, to guesstimate Limbaugh’s tax bite from his new contract. With the obvious caveat that “there are a whole lot of variables both in the structure of his compensation package and the strategies he employs that would affect the actual tax burden,” Sepp predicted that Limbaugh will pay anywhere from one-third to 40 percent of his compensation to the government in taxes.

I’ll do the math for you: That’s $132 million to $160 million in taxes! And Sepp said the bite would be far worse if Limbaugh lived somewhere other than Florida, which has no state income tax and light business taxes. If he lived in California, the Golden Treasury State, he would have added up to 10 percent more ($40 million) to the tax tab.

That’s not counting all of the sales, property, gas and other taxes Limbaugh will be paying every time he spends a million dimes. And his penchant for cigars and other “sins” means he’ll be on the hook for even more.

Here’s the way all the liberals in the media and government should be looking at Limbaugh’s contract: He’s a one-man economic stimulus machine. Just imagine how many more pork projects will be funded over the next eight years because Rush Limbaugh got a hefty raise.

Chicago: The King Of Sales Taxes

July 1, 2008

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

If you think you’re paying more sales tax today in Cook County, you are. The sales tax rate jumps 1 percent today, thanks to a Cook County Board vote, giving Chicago the dubious distinction of having the highest municipal sales tax rate in the nation.

You’ll pay the highest rate of sales tax in restaurants inside a special taxing district of Chicago that originated with the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority’s renaming and Navy Pier’s renovation in 1989.

I doubt Chicago too far ahead of the District of Columbia on the sales-tax front. I always hated commuting into the nation’s capital unless I took lunch because I knew I was going to pay big taxes for eating out. In fact, I suspect that Chicago isn’t the leader of other big cities by much at all.

Gouged By Soccer Bureaucrats

June 30, 2008

The tax-and-spenders in government have nothing on the amateur bureaucrats who run the Northern Virginia Soccer League, where our two older children have played the past few years. They just jacked up the price for playing from the $70 we paid for the spring season to $96 for the fall.

My wife, Kimberly, is as furious about that 35 percent fee hike as I am. We’ve griped to each other for years about the exorbitant $70, wondering what it covered. Now they’re charging even more — and the cheapskates don’t even buy any trophies for the kids from those fees.

We paid quite a bit less for our kids to play soccer in another the league when they were younger, but we changed leagues to save on gas and time. We’ll stay put for now because with gas now almost double what it was when we changed leagues, it’s still be cheaper even with the pay hike. But I’m going to do some digging to see what I can learn about how the league is spending its money.

New Taxes In The Old Dominion?

June 26, 2008

I used to think Virginia, my current home, and West Virginia, my birthplace and dream forever home, were quite different places. Western Virginians, in fact, used the Civil War as a good excuse to achieve a split that had been in the making for decades. The people on the two sides of the Appalachian Mountain range had very little in common.

Now that Democrats are in power again in Virginia, though, there ain’t much difference between west and east. This kind of news from the Old Dominion sounds an awful lot like the news I used to read regularly (and write as a journalist) when I lived in the Mountain State:

The Virginia Senate voted along party lines Wednesday to raise the gas tax by 6 cents, but officials in both parties say the measure has almost no chance in the House of Delegates, leaving many legislators to wonder whether any plan to pay for transportation will be resolved in the current special session. …

Senate Democrats ignored a proposal by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), approving a plan that would raise the gas tax over the next six years, increase the statewide sales tax by 0.25 percent and boost the tax on vehicle purchases by 0.5 percent. Together, the taxes would raise $452 million annually.

That’s two different proposals with the same underlying answer: tax and spend. Makes me wanna move to Montana.

About Those Tax Bites

June 5, 2008

I’ve been negligent in keeping the weekly and monthly tax bites updated on this blog. I’ve been too busy traveling for work or, as of tomorrow, vacation. I’ve been keeping all of my receipts, though, and I’ll do the math as soon as I find the time — just in case anyone out there was wondering.

Tire(d) Of Taxes

June 5, 2008

We haven’t rotated the tires on our Toyota Sienna since we bought it, so I took it to NTB this morning. One of the tires also has had a slow leak for the past few months, so I had that repaired. It cost about 50 bucks — plus another $2.48 in sales taxes.

Why Did I Eat Fish & Chips?

May 30, 2008

I’ve been asking myself that question ever since I finished lunch today. Even worse, why did I eat that greasy meal at the has-been Arthur Treacher’s chain? And why did I eat it in Alexandria, where the local taxes make the cost of such intestinal treachery even higher.

I hadn’t eaten at an Arthur Treacher’s in almost 20 years. Hopefully the 48 cents in taxes on top of the indigestion I’ll be feeling the rest of the day will be enough to make me stay away at least that long and preferably the rest of my life!

Backyard Beaches

May 26, 2008

Our youngest child and her friends like to haul sand around in play trucks in our backyard to make beaches all around the sandbox. So at least once a year, I have to trek to Home Depot for a new supply of sand. Today was the day because we hosted a Memorial Day picnic.

The sand set us back $20; the taxes cost us an extra dollar.