Some Considerations, Please

Chris Bouneff

The argument is rote by now. I'm a business. I invest money in the local economy. I create jobs that pay wages. These wages pay taxes.

I do enough. I need breaks. More breaks, in fact, than I already have.

Only I'm not a business. I'm a wage earner.

Of course, because of me, state and local governments have something to tax to pay for government services. In fact, the burden falls most heavily upon me in Oregon, much more than it falls on corporations, as The Oregonian reported.

And I represent two-thirds of the economy. Without my spending, businesses can't stay in business. If I cut back even slightly, or if my confidence dips, the economy slows or tanks.

So, I'm important. And because I am so important, I want considerations. I still want services, and No. 1 among them is education. Without education, we don't have the ability to attract other wage earners who earn wages that get taxed and that fuel the economy.

With all this in mind, and with the electoral sporting season open again, I have four mild proposals that I wish to advance.

· A minimum income tax. In those years that I spend more than I take in, I'm willing to kick in $10. Seems fair enough.

I could pay more, I suppose, but I already pay a ton in property taxes and spend money on consumer goods. I'm already contributing.

· Interest income tax cut. I don't need a capital gains tax cut. I don't have much capital to gain, but I do have a bank account that earns interest. Banks use that bank account to make loans to consumers, who use that money to spend on products and services that businesses provide so they can stay in business. Banks also loan that money to businesses, which also use the money so they can stay in business.

Why should that interest be taxed as regular income?

· Property tax exemption and/or breaks. Lots of businesses and condo developments get exemptions of 10 years or more. Based on my family's wages, we're what businesses and politicians want in Oregon. We've got money to spend; not a lot mind you, but enough to help keep some businesses afloat.

I want an exemption. Otherwise, I'll think about taking my wages elsewhere.

· The ability to collect money for public services that I might use. I anticipate using services at some point, so I'd like to estimate what I could use in a given year, collect that amount in advance, and pay it when I use the services.

If I spend more than I earn, however, I want to write off the amount I collect and pocket it. Utilities in Oregon get to do that legally. And if it's legal, it's got to be ethical.

These are four proposals that recognize my importance, and I recognize that they shift the burden of paying for services that we all need and use to some other group of payers. But that's OK. I'm that important.

Comments

  • Mike Austin (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Your attitude exemplifies (?) what is wrong with the tax code. The problem is that everyone can make an argument as to why they deserve a break. Some of us can pay, err, persuade legislators to consider the merits of our argument and amend the tax code accordingly. That is how the current mess was created.

    I believe in leveling the playing field. Rather than adding more exemptions and complicating things, we should get rid of all exemptions and credits and tax all income on a progressive, flat rate. We also need to change the corporate income tax to a "gross receipts" tax that is also progressive and flat with no exemptions.

    It is positively criminal that 50% (?) of businesses in Oregon pay the minimum $10 corporate income tax. If corporations have the same rights as individuals they should have the same responsibilities, especially in regards to paying taxes.

    As far as property taxes goes, we should put all property on the tax rolls, including churches and not-for-profits and then lower the rates accordingly.

    Once we have reformed the income and property tax codes, we should put on the ballot an initiative for a 5% sales tax that can be increased only by the passing of a referendum to the voters.

  • eric (unverified)
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    Mike,

    My read of his post was thta he was being ironic and making exactly the point you are. Showing what happens if we use the logic applied to businesses and taxes and apply it to everyone.

  • BlueNote (unverified)
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    The tax code is really screwed up.

    A company can write off tens of thousands of dollars a year for country club dues so that its executives can play golf. Of course, those club dues are "ordinary and necessary business expenses" of the company, and are tax deductible (and are used to reduce taxable profits of the company). On the other hand, some schmuck who works for a living and spends a hundred bucks a year playing a couple rounds of golf at Heron Lakes can't deduct his greens fees because those are "personal expenses".

    And that is only one example out of of hundreds. When big shots take clients out to dinner, the company pays and deducts the meal and drinks and tip from its taxable income. When the schmuck takes his significant other to dinner for their anniversary, he pays with after tax dollars.

    Of course, when it comes time for Congress or the state legislature to meet, guess who donates to preserve the status quo? Probably not the schmuck. He is too poor from paying all those taxes!

  • WInston Wolfe (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Hey Chris,

    Stop your bitching and pay for my methadone treatments!

    Sincerely,

    The Portland liberals that want to have gay sex with your son.

    "How about you Lash Larue? Think you can keep your spurs from jingling and jangling?"

  • (Show?)

    Chris -- Great post. You're absolutely right that parity between corporate and personal tax systems is needed.

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