Too easy to be true?

I hadn't realized until the last few months of the budget debate that state tax rates tend to be much more "regressive" (or "progressive," depending on your point of view from the income heap) than federal tax rates.The states are also where the budget crunches are genuine crises. So this "flip it to fix it" campaign from the group United for a Fair Economy, and detailed at Ethics Daily, seems more than a bit intriguing. The pitch is simple: inverting the percentages of taxes being paid by the wealthiest and poorest citizens in each state.

In Oklahoma, when taxes from all sources are considered, the citizens in the lowest 20 percent of the income bracket pay 9.9 percent of their annual income in taxes.The citizens in the highest 20 percent of the income bracket pay only 5.9 percent of their annual income in taxes.UFE proposes that we reverse the percentage of taxes for the highest and lowest income quintiles.Currently, citizens at the second lowest income quintile pay 9.5 percent of their annual income in taxes, while the citizens at the second highest income quintile pay only 8.2 percent of their annual income in taxes. Those percentages should also be inverted.Taxes would remain the same for those at the middle income quintile.Remarkably, these simple and fair inversions would increase revenues in Oklahoma by about $4.3 billion in a state where the entire budget for next year was projected to be $6.7 billion dollars.

You can check what this would mean for your state here. Appealing. Where are the holes in the plan?

David Gibson is the director of Fordham’s Center on Religion & Culture.

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November 22, 1963

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