Tax reform looks like a no show for this session

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 5, 2008

The issue: The Alabama Legislature has acted in an irresponsible way regarding tax measures this session.

Our position: Tax reform is needed here in the state. We won&8217;t get it this year.

While we disagree with the Alabama Policy Institute on the matter of the grocery tax, we wholeheartedly endorse a statement last week from one of its officials:

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So would we.

But that&8217;s not going to happen this legislative session with less than a week left.

The Senate and the House have mired themselves in bickering over various issues, leaving the most important one out in the cold again.

Even an attempt to get just a piece of reform with a proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries and raise income tax for the top 30 percent of the wealthy in Alabama failed.

But time is running out, and it doesn&8217;t appear that voters will receive the opportunity to vote on this tax reform issue.

This measure certainly would help Black Belt families in economic hard times as gas prices rise to $4 a gallon and food prices rise with them.

Grocery sales taxes take a greater portion of a minimum-wage income than that of a CEO of a company. That&8217;s why sales taxes are considered regressive.

For a tax system to become progressive, the wealthy will have to pay a higher percentage of their incomes in taxes.

Other industrial societies outside the United States consider this to be the only ethical approach to taxation.

Gov. Bob Riley has said if the Legislature winds up passing the bill and placing it on the statewide ballot in November, he will politic against it.

He is protecting the interests of that 30 percent that would have to pay more income tax to offset the value given to the poor and lower middle income wage earners at the cash register in the supermarket.

We understand his position and still wish the Legislature would put the measure before the people for a healthy mix of opinion at the polls.

Most taxation and economic decisions are made by those who are well off and placed into office to act in the interests of the affluent and influential.

Therefore, not allowing the measure to go onto the ballot isn&8217;t in the interests of the poor or those who work the basic service jobs, the farm laborer, those living on pensions or the disabled or even students.

So, we don&8217;t hear their voices; only those in the income bracket of the top 30 percent.

Which brings us back around to ask the question: Would we ever see tax reform in Alabama?