February 22, 2009

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Dear editor:

Unfortunately, the West Clermont Board of Education unanimously voted to place a 1 percent income tax on the March 4, 2008 ballot. Although the Board members are good people, mean well, and are performing a thankless task, they have made a mistake by moving forward with this.

A school income tax will shift the primary burden of funding from all property owners (including businesses) to middle class wage earners. The very rich will be exempt because income from interest, dividends, and capital gains are not considered “earned income” and therefore not subject to the additional 1 percent tax. Business owners will contribute less to school funding as current property tax levies start to roll off.

The bottom line is that the income tax will shift the primary burden of taxation from all residential and business properties and concentrate the burden on middle class wage earners who live in West Clermont. No reciprocity is available regardless of where we work. And no one living outside of West Clermont will be subject to the tax even if they work here.

Taxes, of any kind, are punitive and widely despised:

·         Income taxes discourage production

·         Sales taxes discourage consumption

·         Property taxes depress real estate values

·         Intangible taxes (stocks, bonds, capital gains) discourage investment

The income tax is the most destructive of these. Lack of a local income tax was one of the key reasons that I chose to move to this community. Additionally, if a local income tax becomes law, high income people will be discouraged from moving into this community. And those considering leaving will be given a push. West Clermont does not need more low income people demanding more and more community resources. We need to encourage high income people to move here, not drive them away.

I understand the need to fund the schools and strong schools foster a strong community. Being as a school system can’t enact a sales tax, the property tax is the best option. Property taxes are paid by everybody living in the community. (Landlords pass on the tax as part of the rent.) An income tax would shift the burden of school funding to only those residents with earned income. West Clermont needs more residents with earned income, not fewer.

John Becker