With the election over, Politico has taken a look at how local tax measures did throughout the country. The result?
During last week’s elections, voters across the country opted to raise taxes to help their cities, counties and school districts.
“I’m OK with being taxed for making sure we don’t go under and people are taken care of,” said Elizabeth Boyd, 35, an independent voter in Sacramento. “I think it’s really good for us to pay for schools and make sure they’re kept open and teachers aren’t being laid off for ridiculous reasons.”
Whether you agree with this outcome or not, the important thing is that the system works: The people who voted on the tax measures both pay the increased taxes and benefit from the services and projects they fund. Which is as it should be.
Still, we can’t help thinking that it would have been better if the increased taxes were unnecessary. Sales tax is due on online purchases but nearly always goes unpaid, to the tune of $23 billion each year. If that money had been collected at the point of purchase, just as sales tax on bricks-and-mortar purchases is, perhaps none of these tax increases would have been necessary.
If you pay sales tax on an online purchase, it doesn’t matter where the online store is—the sales tax you pay goes to your state and local community, where it funds services that voters approved.
Most people are willing to chip in for services that benefit their community. According to the Politico article,
voters tend to have a more favorable opinion about increasing taxes when they can see that the extra revenue will benefit their community directly. A 2010 analysis by The Associated Press found that voters in a large cross-section of states passed 50 percent or more of the local tax initiatives that came before them. . . .
In California, Sacramento voters, who tend to be more conservative than other areas of the state, supported a sales tax hike by a 2-to-1 ratio in addition to two school construction bonds.
“That’s a pretty clear choice of the people,” [Sacramento] City Councilman Darrell Fong said. “They don’t want to see a reduction in service, especially when it is to public safety and parks. They know we’ve made the cuts already.”