View Poll Results: On what basis should municipalities be allowed to levy taxes?

Voters
6. You may not vote on this poll
  • Keep local taxes based on real estate

    3 50.00%
  • Allow towns to augment real estate taxes with income taxes

    3 50.00%
  • Allow towns to replace real estate taxes with income taxes

    1 16.67%
  • Require towns to replace real estate taxes with income taxes

    0 0%
  • Other

    0 0%
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Thread: Local income tax as an alternative to real estate taxation?

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Wow. Lots of opinions on this I see. That's good!

    You know, one way to eliminate deficit spending and fund lots of things is to a) legalize drugs and b) legalize prostitution. Both of these distasteful pastimes take place regardless of whether or not you approve of them, and cost society billions each year in law enforcement, prisons, and myriads of other fees. if these activities were legalized, regulated, and taxed, their usage would NOT increase (at least in my opinion), and society would not dissolve into anarchy (again, the opinion of the poster), but we WOULD create an enormous revenue stream. How much money does the state currently collect from gambling (lottery, casinos)? What about legalizing and regulating/taxing other forms of gambling (sports for example)? The packaging and marketing/branding has already been done for marijuana, so turning it on would not take very long, and if people are willing to pay $8 for a pack of cancer, imagine what they'd pay for a pack of legal pot? I know that I'm stomping around blindfolded in a mine field with cleats on, but I really do believe in user fees, and to be honest, I'm glad that the fees for schools are shifting to the students (bus fees, book fees, sports fees, you name it). I don't know why education for free is viewed as a right - it's a privilege, and asking people who send their kids to private school (let's not even bring up WHY they might do that over sending them to public school) to also pay taxes to send my kid to school for free just doesn't seem right, or fair.

    Of course some of the points I'm making are exaggerated and inflammatory, but what we're doing now doesn't seem fair to either to well-off or the less well-off. Just because someone makes a lot of money doesn't mean it's reasonable to tax them until they bleed. Believe it or not, many high income people actually work VERY hard for that money, and deserve to keep what they earn (there's that Republican in me comin' out again!). I'm with Alan on this one - I'm sick of paying taxes (real estate or other), and would love to have a more balanced approach to funding "public" things like schools, including (horrors) user fees.

    -C

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    117

    Default Fie on Fees. Not

    Kim, to me above you pointed out that fees make it difficult for lower-income children to participate in extra-curricula groups and activities. Correct, but in your effort to guarantee a level educational playing field with no fees, don't we end up subsidizing the higher income folks too.

    To Alan, you mentioned fees for all sorts of other services. These would also be an additional burden on the lower-income family.

    Let's go back to means testing (it's like a variation on income tax). Couldn't means testing work for both kinds of school fees mentioned above? Below some income level the fees would be waived. For the taxpayer this would be much more efficient, and cheaper Ė targeting the subsidy directly to those who need it. Those that could afford to pay, unfortunately for them, would pay for what they receive. Doesn't the argument for public education for everyone, paid for by everyone, actually require the average taxpayer to subsidize the education of children from wealthier families? Can anyone explain how that makes sense?

    Philosophically (sorry Alan) I might want to apply this means testing to government policies generally. Like Social Security mentioned above, or say, farmerís subsidies. Iíve read that 80% of federal agricultural subsidies go to the richest 20% of farmers. While this welfare for the rich is probably part of the intent, it certainly would be better from my point of view, and cheaper, for government to focus on those that actually need help.

    School fees, but waived for people who canít bear them. Itís this kind of sophisticated jerry-rigging that I believe people will have to think about if theyíre serious about getting taxes under control, or want to get more benefit from the money they do spend. And yes, maybe people of means would have to pay more for the services they receive. That's income taxes. Tough decisions.

    donBustin@verizon.net

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Wayland, MA
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    52

    Default flat tax is fair

    Flat taxes are just plain fair. If we got rid of the tax code so that the richest people don't try to wiggle out of their 40% tax rate, we could have flat tax of 15-20 percent for everybody. (Federal, that is) Think of how little paperwork there would be. Think of the all the tax preparers that would be out of work....

    I already pay an income tax - twice. The idea of paying it a third time is awful.

    We are in this conundrum partially because of teacher's union rules and partially because of extracurricular expenses. What if we offered teachers a health plan with a $20.00 co-pay? It feels like the union has more say than the taxpayers. Which is the point of unions I suppose. If our teachers paid union dues to the town of Wayland...well, wouldn't that be interesting. What is different in the budget from 30-40 years ago? How much higher is the tax rate now?

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Price View Post
    Flat taxes are just plain fair. If we got rid of the tax code so that the richest people don't try to wiggle out of their 40% tax rate, we could have flat tax of 15-20 percent for everybody. (Federal, that is)
    I don't have a reference, but I've read/heard that the affluent consume more in the way of government services than those less well off--a flat tax isn't fair. But even if it were technically fair, there's a strong case to be made that a flat tax isn't good or just. Those with low incomes pay a much higher percentage of what they make on necessities. A flat tax would be crushing to a group already crushed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Price View Post
    Think of how little paperwork there would be. Think of the all the tax preparers that would be out of work....
    Taxes aren't complicated because of the progressive tax rate. Your proposal is that people pay 20%, say. A progressive tax takes up just a few more words: X% on your first $N in income, Y% on the next $N, and Z% on the remaining $N. No, taxes are complicated because of deductions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Price View Post
    I already pay an income tax - twice. The idea of paying it a third time is awful.
    The proposal in this thread isn't to add tax, it's to shift one more regressive tax to one that's more progressive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Price View Post
    We are in this conundrum partially because of teacher's union rules and partially because of extracurricular expenses.
    What exactly is the conundrum? That our average tax bill is too high? What level would be the right level? Our tax bill is at its current level in large part because of the salaries that have been negotiated between the town and its employees, the majority of whom are teachers. This isn't about union rules, and it certainly isn't about co-curricular activities, which make up a small fraction of what we pay in taxes. Back of the envelope, if we totally eliminated co-curricular offerings, we'd reduce taxes by about $100 per household when the average tax bill is closing on $10k. Co-curricular activities are not the problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Price View Post
    What if we offered teachers a health plan with a $20.00 co-pay?
    Wayland employees have one of the least generous health plans relative to our peers. I don't have the details handy, but the plan that many of our employees are on does have a co-pay.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Price View Post
    It feels like the union has more say than the taxpayers. Which is the point of unions I suppose. If our teachers paid union dues to the town of Wayland...well, wouldn't that be interesting.
    Well, yes, interesting, I guess, but it wouldn't be a union. Are you saying that workers should not have the right to unionize?

    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Price View Post
    What is different in the budget from 30-40 years ago? How much higher is the tax rate now?
    Tax rate isn't the issue, it's tax bill. I haven't looked in a while, but it's my impression that the tax bill has risen somewhat faster than inflation.

  5. #35
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    Jeff - why is it ok for the poor to pay same state tax as the rich? The poor who want a TV or a car pay the same tax regardless of income.

    Why is the tax bill higher than 30-40 years ago?

    It feels like the union has more say than the taxpayers in Wayland. The right to unionize isn't more important than the taxpayer's rights.

    What is the co-pay for doctors visits for Wayland teachers? I'm not interested in what other towns do. I'm interested in Wayland - particularly since Wayland offers teachers excellent salaries, generall. I think good salaries are the way to go. Pay them more and have higher copays for doctor's visits.

    Can you give an example of how the rich use more services than the poor?

  6. #36
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    Nov 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Price View Post
    Jeff - why is it ok for the poor to pay same state tax as the rich? The poor who want a TV or a car pay the same tax regardless of income.

    Why is the tax bill higher than 30-40 years ago?
    Hi Elizabeth,

    I'll take these two:

    (1) I assume you mean the sales tax? Yes, the poor pay the same tax rate on items as the rich, and this may be somewhat regressive. However, the rich buy a lot more items, and for each item will tend to buy a more expensive one. Yes, they both buy a TV, but maybe the poor family buys a $200 TV (and pays $12.50 in taxes), and the rich family buys a $1000 TV (and pays $62.50). Plus, maybe the rich family, which has more rooms in their bigger house, buys two of those big TVs and pays $125 (v. the $12.50 for the poor family). So, yes, same tax rate, but not the same amount of taxes. (This makes it clear why food is not taxed, but eating out is -- we tax the luxury, but not the necessity, to help make the tax more progressive.)

    (2) for the most part, the tax bill is higher because wages have gone up, and health care costs have gone up even more so. (I think we all understand that the tax bill is generally higher bacause of inflation) You perhaps meant to ask why the tax rate is higher? Turns out, it isn't. Data available online doesn't quite go back 30-40 years, but does it go back to 1982. Our residential tax rate that year was 22.47/1,000. It is 17.78 for FY10.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Price View Post
    Jeff - why is it ok for the poor to pay same state tax as the rich? The poor who want a TV or a car pay the same tax regardless of income.
    I didn't say that it was okay for the poor to pay the same state tax as the rich.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Price View Post
    It feels like the union has more say than the taxpayers in Wayland. The right to unionize isn't more important than the taxpayer's rights.
    I didn't say that the right to unionize is more important than taxpayer rights, nor do I think that it is. For decades, Wayland taxpayers have consistenly voted to support education and by extension, the salaries that we pay our educators and municipal employees. As financial pressures have increased, the terms of our contracts and the increases therein have followed suit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Price View Post
    What is the co-pay for doctors visits for Wayland teachers? I'm not interested in what other towns do. I'm interested in Wayland - particularly since Wayland offers teachers excellent salaries, generall. I think good salaries are the way to go. Pay them more and have higher copays for doctor's visits.
    I'm tracking down details of the health insurance that Wayland offers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Price View Post
    Can you give an example of how the rich use more services than the poor?
    Here's two: Larger homes consume more energy, resulting in a larger carbon footprint and correspondingly higher mitigation costs. Those same larger homes on their larger lots take more police and fire services to protect. I'm by no means an expert in this area, though, and would love to learn more if anyone has references to check out.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Price View Post
    What is the co-pay for doctors visits for Wayland teachers? I'm not interested in what other towns do. I'm interested in Wayland - particularly since Wayland offers teachers excellent salaries, generall. I think good salaries are the way to go. Pay them more and have higher copays for doctor's visits.
    I find it a bit curious that you say that you aren't interested in what other towns do, then turn around to note Wayland's "excellent" salaries, a judgment that requires ... knowing what other towns do. [grin] I agree, by the way, with your sentiment. Keep in mind, of course, that changes in health insurance must be negotiated--it's not simply the right of the town to change them at will.

    Regarding health insurance, Wayland offers three types of plans: the "legacy" PPO/POS plans, "mid-range" HMOs and EPOs, and new rate saver plans. The legacy and mid-range plans have $5 co-pays. The rate saver plans have copays of $20-$40 depending on the nature of the visit.

  9. #39
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    Article in today's Boston Globe - Globe West section about a push in Concord to consider a local income tax.

  10. #40
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    Dec 2005
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    Yikes! Say it isn't so!

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