I remember a lunchtime trip to Quizno’s on MLK near Gated Community Brad’s old apartment where the main topic of discussion was taxes. I paid about $5 for my chicken carbonara, and an extra 30 cents in taxes. A wealthy CEO would have paid the same, as well as a homeless, jobless single mother of three. What got us on the subject of taxes was the recent (to us, at least) proposition of the FairTax.
It was one of the most thoughtful and informative conversations I can remember we had that wasn’t about physics. But this post isn’t about the FairTax, at least not directly. The main result I remember from that lunch was my strengthened opinion that the sales tax without rebate is the most regressive, unfair sources of income for a government. To hit all people, regardless of economic status, the same for essential needs is just wrong to me.
So it’s with a bit of apprehension that I’m faced with an election question in November. The county is proposing an increase of the local sales tax by one cent, which I am morally opposed to, and lowering property taxes. The net effect to residents, it is claimed, would be zero. However, my university would be a direct beneficiary of such a tax increase, and I’ve been told by my superiors in no uncertain terms that the desperately-needed expansion and renovation of my building hinges upon the question’s passage.
Complicating the dilemma is the fact that the county has a huge tourism industry. It is expected that the brunt of this tax would be felt by out-of-towners… but is that fair? It would be selfish for me to hope for a downswing of the tourism industry, but that might weaken the overall local economy. And Myrtle Beach caters to many lower-income vacationers themselves.
And what of long-term renters, like me? We don’t pay property tax on land or houses, so our net tax burden would increase. Surely landlords would not pass the savings completely onto lessees. So my personal interest in voting “yea” is diminished.
I don’t know how I will vote. I have a month to figure it out. Some have counselled me to consider the morality and ignore the potential rewards. Would I lose sleep over voting for a sales tax increase? Likely not. But at what point should one start playing the balancing game?
Stay tuned. It’s still 50/50.