Sink this tax plan

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The point of a face lift is to make the subject more appealing. But that strategy sure hasn't worked for the ugly property tax proposal laid out by House Speaker Glenn Richardson.

When Richardson first started turning heads last year with his idea of eliminating all property taxes in Georgia and replacing them with an expanded sales tax, a lot of ears understandably pricked up. Who likes paying property taxes, right?

But when Richardson's scheme came under serious nonpartisan scrutiny, the warts started showing.

His plan would have wrested revenue control from municipalities and placed it firmly in the hands of state government. The state, in effect, would have determined how much money it thinks cities, counties and school systems need to operate. That's like the bank telling you how you should spend your paycheck.

To stave off further criticism, Richardson changed his proposal -- but it's not any prettier. He now aims to do away with tag taxes and school-levied property taxes, and replace them with an expanded sales tax on services.

How in the world is this any better? It still robs local authorities from controlling their own money. And it ties crucial school funding to a sales tax, which is prone to fall victim to recession and other economic vagaries.

Elsewhere in the package of legislation is a proposal to freeze assessed values for residential property at 2008 levels until the property is resold. Again, it looks good, but only until you look closely.

Say you buy a home after this plan takes effect, and your new next-door neighbor has a house identical to yours. So who'll pay higher property taxes? You. That's because while your neighbor enjoys his frozen assessment, you'll have to pay more because of your newly assessed house. New homeowners get a shamefully raw deal under this mess of a tax plan.

Yes, property tax assessments can border on the ridiculous, and the system is ripe for abuse. But if given a choice between hitching a government's fiscal wagon to a property tax or a sales tax -- and it's stability and fairness you're looking for -- you have to go with the property tax, however reluctantly.

Richardson's tax package may hit the General Assembly floor for debate as soon as this week, and hopefully enough right-thinking legislators will come loaded and ready to shoot these dangerous, malformed ideas down. What we need is a more balanced, better reasoned and logically sound plan for tax reform in Georgia, not the mess being pushed by Richardson.

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patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 02/26/08 - 07:20 am
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Unfortunately, the specific

Unfortunately, the specific plan Richardson is offering isn't an improvement to the mess in place now.

DeborahElliott2
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DeborahElliott2 02/26/08 - 07:41 am
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Like I said, too much

Like I said, too much government, perhaps if they showed layoffs like the rest of the world, they would get a better idea of how it feels to do without.

effete elitist liberal
3116
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effete elitist liberal 02/26/08 - 08:42 am
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The AC editorial is right,

The AC editorial is right, the Glenn Richardson version of the so-called Fair Tax is a stupid and irresponsible idea. In addition to all the shortcomings mentioned in the editorial, a consumption tax would turn Augusta into a retail ghost town. Consumers would cross the river and spend their tax-free earnings on still low-tax goods and services in South Carolina. Augustans would enjoy the best of both worlds, great for all of us except those who run our local businesses. But the AC piece, as usual, left something else out. Glenn Richardson, and virtually all supporters of the "Fair Tax," are conservative REPUBLICANS. It is REPUBLICANS who elected Richardson, and REPUBLICANS who support him. The AC never fails to identify Democrats with whom they disagree, but the bad ideas of Republicans are just bad ideas. Fair and balanced? Hardly, but after all, this is Mike Ryan and the Augusta Chronicle....

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 02/26/08 - 09:17 am
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Just remember, if this

Just remember, if this proposal is on the November ballot statewide, it is likely to pass. I continue to be amazed how us citizens continue to vote for more government control and higher taxes.

The Knave
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The Knave 02/26/08 - 10:41 am
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I have to pinch myself to

I have to pinch myself to make certain I'm awake when I say this -- the AC is right on this issue. Political hack Glenn Richardson, the pride of the GA Republi-cons (Demon-rats are no better, by the way) is trying to pull the same stunt that his buddies in SC did last year. It was a stupid idea in SC, and it is a stupid idea in GA. The rush to increase sales taxes (the so-called "Fair Tax" concept) is: (1) highly regressive; (2) shifts the tax burden from the upper classes to the lower classes (financially-speaking); (3) Moves control from local citizens (at least in theory) to the political operatives in Atlanta; (4) makes me want to accelerate my purchase of everything I possible can from out-of-state sources. This is an idiotic idea, proposed by an idiot. Yes, the tax system is screwed up. But, the biggest problem, which gets little attention, is that spending is out of control. "Tax cuts" are the fair-haired children, adored by all. "Spending cuts" are the orphans, ignored and neglected. ----- When the people fear the government, that’s tyranny. When the government fears the people, that liberty. We need to put some fear into dopes of Richardson's ilk.

NotyourDadsBuick
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NotyourDadsBuick 02/26/08 - 12:41 pm
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Did I read that correctly?

Did I read that correctly? Did someone post a comment stating that the AC is a liberal newspaper? Hehe.

read this
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read this 02/26/08 - 01:30 pm
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It is funny to me how people

It is funny to me how people buy this everytime. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me......so the saying goes. The tax is our money and if you think that it is going to come from the people that don't have any money you are wrong. The lottery is a tax on people poor at math. The cigarette tax is a tax on people with a death wish. The tax on alcohol is a tax on drunks. The tax on hotels is a tax on visitors. The tax on gas is a tax on drivers. The tax on phones is a tax on talkers. The tax on fast food is a tax on fat people. Give me a break people. You think voting for any tax is ok if it is on somebody elses back. All this will do is rob more money out of the economy that is already stressed to its breaking point.

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