The myth of low taxes

One of the great myths in Alabama is that taxes are low.

No question, total tax revenue is low. We live in a state that is quick to throw people in prison, but unwilling to maintain them at constitutional levels. Alabama has one of the highest poverty rates in
the nation, but one of the skimpiest safety nets. Infant mortality rates are among the highest in the United States — in fact, are close rto those of third-world countries — yet we invest little in prenatal
care. We have low literacy rates, but begrudge investments in education.

Our embarrassing lack of investment in desperately needed programs is a direct result of refusing to impose reasonable taxes on those who flourish.

Instead, Alabama extracts every possible dollar from those who can least afford it.

A study released last week by the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy confirmed the success of those who wield political power in Montgomery. Low- and middle-income Alabamians pay more than twice as much of their incomes in state and local taxes as the state’s
richest households. Alabama’s regressive tax policy made the institute’s “Terrible Ten” list.

The bottom fifth of Alabama earners make less than $16,000 a year, yet they pay 10.2 percent of their income in state and local taxes. The middle fifth pay 9.6 percent.

The low-tax myth in Alabama is accurate only for the wealthy. The top 1 percent of the state’s earners pull in an average of $900,400 a year, but pay only 3.8 percent of their income in state and local taxes.
Last week, state officials lamented that once again, revenue would be insufficient to meet the state’s already skeletal obligations.

Teachers likely will go without a cost-of-living raise for the fifth year in a row. More infants will die unnecessarily. More people with diabetes, lacking access to health care, will succumb to cardiovascular complications.

Whether controlled by Democrats or Republicans, Montgomery has remained beholden to those who place their own profit above all else.

The state’s refusal to invest in programs that would increase opportunity for an impoverished population is the result not of a lack of funds, but of a lack of political courage.

Alabama’s tax system is skewed to favor the wealthy, and the results are tragic. It is time for voters to tell politicians they are tired of a political system that caters not to the majority but to the elite.

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3 Comments

Filed under Alabama politics, Tax reform

3 responses to “The myth of low taxes

  1. Why do I stay here? I’m retired, and the only real estate I own is my house. I’m ashamed of our state government for all the reasons listed above and more. Each year this state sinks deeper into this unreal morass. It’s not family or children and it’s not football that keeps me here. I don’t think it’s the low taxes and utilities, though those are nice. The only weather thing I possibly fear is a tornado, and how often does that happen? It must be inertia. Newton’s First Law. The external forces are not great enough–yet.

  2. Eric’s last sentence: “It is time for voters to tell politicians they are tired of a political system that caters not to the majority but to the elite.” In fact, the effective majority in this state is apparently satisfied. I even suggest that many of the majority consider themselves the elite, even though they are inarguably in the economic middle class: mature, white, Christian (and that, evangelical), and satisfied with themselves and the status quo in this state. And since the middle class here is only lightly taxed in an ABSOLUTE sense, everything’s OK. It make no difference to them that the rich are taxed even LESS in the RELATIVE sense. So blog posts such as this will continue to be ignored. Most of ’em don’t even bother to read Eric’s blog or the DecDaily’s editorials.
    What will change this? A white President with an Anglo-Saxon name? Would his performance, if “bad,” bring about a change here in 2018? Hint: see “George W. Bush.” Mass release of half of Alabama’s prisoners? Total logjam in our court system? All non-Federal roads revert to dirt and gravel? Many around here are already on the way back to the pre-automobile tradition. Would the Federal government close Redstone Arsenal, Ft. Rucker, and the AF bases in Montgomery if Alabama became this post-apocalyptic state? TVA has a BIG presence in North Alabama. I’m just saying.

  3. The Oracle

    Here’s a thought Hugh….you and Eric are free to give more of your incomes to the state. I’m just saying.

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