Archive for Sunday, July 30, 2006

Spreading taxes

July 30, 2006


To the editor:

I wholeheartedly support Mayor Mike Amyx's proposal for a 1 percent sales tax. The amount of dollars I pay each year for property taxes has steadily increased due to my property's appreciation.

I have been following closely all the statements made by our city concerning our infrastructure needs. I am sure these are all genuine needs and should be addressed immediately lest they fall into total disarray and hence cost many times more to fix than what they would cost if they were fixed and maintained correctly now.

If seems to me that right now there is quite a bit of tax inequity. Our city is fortunate to have KU located in the heart of the city. The only problem is that they don't contribute any property tax dollars to the system and therefore, we the citizens must subsidize the property tax system for what they would have paid. By raising the sales tax rate 1 percent, nearly 25,000 students pay a larger amount toward city services. These students are huge consumers of city services - streets, parks, police, fire, bus, recreational services, code enforcement - just to name a few.

Shifting the tax burden from property tax to sales tax is a very fair way of spreading the cost of city government over our entire community. By approving a sales tax, we will be able to provide first class infrastructure and service for all to use, and the taxes will be equitably spread through receipts from both property taxes and sales taxes.

James Russell Mather III,



bearded_gnome 11 years, 4 months ago

once there actually was a beard tax. think that'd help? lol

or, to get the college students: a beer and pizza tax?

Jamesaust 11 years, 4 months ago

A well-written letter. I don't agree with it, however.

One point of confusion: is it the fact that the University holds property not subject to property tax that causes the problem or that students on and/or off the campus manage to pay no/not enough taxes? (or both)

The first choice is not unique to Lawrence. Nor is it clear that the secondary effects from the University - the stable paid property owners, the community spending - do not pay several times over for this "hole" is taxable property.

The second choice contains its own two varieties: on and off campus. Certainly, on campus students - dorm students - are not an easy target for the City's treasury although, to be fair, these students don't exactly claim much back from the City by comparison. Sales tax really is the only arrow for these 5-10,000(?) persons. A citywide tax increase on everyone seems a bit of overkill, however. Perhaps lobbying the Legislature for a "transaction" tax on food/housing the students pay the University would be sufficient?

The other second variety is the offcampus student. I wish the author had explained the mechanism that this class managed to cheat the City of money so that I might employ the same tactics myself. Alas, the author will take that knowledge to the grave, I suspect.

No, this letter is really more of a well-written variation on the ditty: don't tax you, don't tax me, tax that guy behind the tree. Every tax falls unequally on each taxpayer's head. As a result, those individuals that are more burdened by any particular tax believe it only fair that it be reduced by enhancing other taxes they are burdened less by.

Of course, the City could take other approaches to taxation that are even more regressive than sales tax or more progressive. We could have a "head tax" on every person in Lawrence - say $100 yr. per person, whether you live in a mansion by the golf course or are a bum in the alley. On the other hand, why is the assessed value of property the only progessive element of property taxes - why not a progressive tax rate as well? After all, if you can live in that mansion by the golfcourse then you can afford to pay a little more for the community. Just like income tax, its only fair that those who have, pay.

Of course, an 'anti-student' tax increase might have one good effect: it might be the final straw that gets these young potential voters registered and to the polls. Hmmm...I wonder if there are any local elections that an extra 10,000, 20,000+ votes might change? Maybe the U should require voting registration as a form of mandatory community service?

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