Lower Taxes and Higher per $1,000 Revenue… Go Figure
Although I’m loath to feed his attention addiction, via his recital of standard lefty rhetoric, Pat Crowley raises a point worth addressing:
… with the report basing its analysis on taxes as a percentage of personal income per $1000, it totally glosses over the point, which the quoted section above confirms, that our tax burden is regressive to the point of absurdity. See, by lumping in everyone, and then calculating the burden, the report assumes that we all pay the same rate on our taxes and that we all pay taxes on the same things. No, by relying more heavily on things like property tax, the distribution of the taxes is weighted more heavily on the bottom.
The report is from the RI Department of Revenue, and the following is that paragraph that he’d just cited:
Regarding state and local individual income tax burdens, Rhode Island ranked 24th nationally in FY 2006 with Rhode Islanders paying $26.10 per $1,000 of personal income. Both Connecticut and Massachusetts ranked higher than Rhode Island with each state ranking in the top 15 nationally in state and local individual income tax burden. For Connecticut, which ranked 11th nationally in FY 2006, taxpayers paid $33.42 per $1,000 of state personal income while for Massachusetts, which ranked 7th nationally, taxpayers paid $36.17 per $1,000 of state personal income.
It takes but a smidgen of intellectual curiosity to discern why Crowley’s closer to an accurate statement when he complains of the report’s “lumping in everyone, and then calculating the burden,” and why the point for which that consideration argues is actually the opposite of what he intends. As Anchor Rising readers are aware, the progressives’ argument is that the state has been giving away all of its revenue in the form of tax cuts for the rich, thus starving state labor and public services of funds. The bleedingly simple solution, of course, is to jack those taxes back up for the cruelly wealthy.
But here’s the thing: With regard to income tax, Connecticut and Massachusetts may have collected more per $1,000 of their populations’ aggregate income, but both states have lower taxes “on the rich.” Any guesses as to how that apparent contradiction occurs, Mr. Crowley?
The answer, obviously, is that Massachusetts and Connecticut have greater percentages of their populations inhabiting higher tax brackets. In 2005 (the latest year for which I’ve gotten around to aggregating the relevant information for all three states), Rhode Island’s average adjusted gross income was $50,790, compared with Massachusetts’s $62,855 and Connecticut’s $73,073. That year, 10.23% of Rhode Islanders’ federal tax returns were on income greater than $100,000, while the percentages were 13.84% for Massachusetts and 15.54% for Connecticut.
The same considerations come into play with other forms of taxes — whereby our gauges might be deceptive. If Rhode Island were to cut its sales tax, for example, it might actually see its “sales tax burden” go up, yet the result would be more commerce, and more income, for Rhode Islanders.