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Would you rather have a lower income tax and higher sales tax, or lower sales tax and higher income tax?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on May 17, 2013

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Photo of Nancy Burk

“If you don’t buy anything you’re better with higher sales tax.”

Photo of Kristen Vint

“Is lower for both an option? Probably higher sales tax.”

Photo of Justin Bright

“Higher sales tax. I could buy stuff outside of Kansas.”

Photo of Bo Dingus

“It doesn’t matter to me as long as they figure out how to fund programs like education.”


ljreader 5 years, 1 month ago

Lower government waste and spending , lower income tax and lower sales tax.

Thinking_Out_Loud 5 years, 1 month ago

What opportunities for "lower waste" do you see? Governor Brownback has had half an administration to cull the waste. Governors Sebelius/Parkinson had two terms. Governor Graves was packing them "high and tight." So...after almost two decades of waste reduction, across three administrations and two parties...what is left? Except lower spending, I assume.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

The sales tax is looked upon as regressive BUT nobody can get away with NOT paying sales taxes like the 1% get away with not paying income taxes.

Can't send sales taxes to the Cayman Islands.

nominalize 5 years, 1 month ago

You can buy things online or in other states. I know you're supposed to pay a use tax on that stuff, but it's purely self-declared so it's even easier to get out of than income tax.

ebyrdstarr 5 years, 1 month ago

Sure, you can buy your laptops, books, things like that online. What about food? You can't buy meat, fruits, and vegetables online unless you can afford the Omaha Steak of the Month Club and Harry and David's. The people who are hardest hit by high sales taxes are those who don't have reliable transportation to get to the next state, who aren't looking to buy the types of things one often buys online, and who are mostly buying the necessities of life that aren't practically bought online.

kernal 5 years, 1 month ago

Higher income tax as long as that would include corporations and those with gross income over $250,000 per annum.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

As demonstrated above, consumers are more likely to change their behavior to avoid sales tax than they are to change their behavior to avoid income tax.

50YearResident 5 years, 1 month ago

Which of these two evils do you prefer? Neither. Sales tax always goes up and never goes down. That makes our state's businesses at a disadvantage for sales. Income taxes have a way to do the same as sales tax, always getting higher. However income taxes eventually can be brought down to a manageable level.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 1 month ago

It therefore follows that there would be a sales tax whenever you put money into your savings account.

And, the profits from stocks, bonds, and other investments are taxed already, if you had to pay a tax when you first invested, that would be double taxation.

oldexbeat 5 years, 1 month ago

My income is taxed already and I have to pay sales tax when I buy milk. And yes, I should pay sales tax when I buy stocks. It is just another purchase, already held as 'special' by the 1 percent -- remember that lower tax on income from stocks than income from work. Bogus.

nominalize 5 years, 1 month ago

yeah, double taxation is a myth people use as an excuse to get out of doing their duty to their state or country. As has been pointed out, monetary transactions between two parties are taxed. Also, money is completely fungible, so you can't really say that this particular dollar gets taxed multiple times.

kernal 5 years, 1 month ago

How would a retailer know if a customer was living at or below the poverty level? A star sewn on their sleeve? Bad idea.

ebyrdstarr 5 years, 1 month ago

The retailer collects the sales tax. Then as we file tax returns now and people get refunds, those who qualify would get a refund of sales taxes paid. And, no, you wouldn't save receipts because it would just be a set number based on income level.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 1 month ago

A) Talk is cheap.
B) Actions speak louder than words.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 1 month ago

Taxation should be based more heavily on consumption, i.e. sales tax, with some exceptions such as food to be prepared at home, which should not be taxed at all.

Income taxes should be lower, so that capital can be more easily accrued to further economic development.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 5 years, 1 month ago

What guarantee is there that money accrued equals economic development, as opposed to graft?

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 1 month ago

There is no guarantee, other than the one that if income taxation is too high, capital improvements, that is, infrastructure to improve economic activity that will improve the lives of the population and increase the amount of income available for taxation might not be affordable for those who would otherwise be able to improve the nation's economy. It's a complex economic subject.

Richard Payton 5 years, 1 month ago

Tax exempt status is issued for many wealthy groups and individuals. Throw in offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands and we have a tax free option.

patkindle 5 years, 1 month ago

if you live in your parents basement, and they buy the food, you should be in good shape either way

verity 5 years, 1 month ago

How fortunate for you to be in such good shape. Most people don't have that choice.

verity 5 years, 1 month ago

This seems to me to not really be a relevant question as there are a number of very important things missing in this equation.

1 How much will sales tax have to be raised to make up for lost revenue from income taxes and still provide even the minimum of services? And if we exclude necessities like food, that will make the percentage for other things go even higher. At some point it WILL impact what people buy.

2 How does property tax figure into this? We already have extremely p high property taxes and local government has to get money some way. The choice is not just between income and sales tax.

3 Is this a bait and switch? Will individual income taxes ever go away for us peasants or will we just lose our deductions and have even higher taxes?

4 For those of you who intend to shop in a different state---if you live near the border that might be an economy, but for most it won't be, and that will mean other taxes will have to make up for what is lost that way.

We don't like paying taxes, but we do like our services.

We can't have one without the other.

patkindle 5 years, 1 month ago

you missed the deal where you live off of everyone else who is working it is called spread the wealth , get it from the rich robber barons,

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 1 month ago

As a wealthy self-concerned member of upper middle class, I prefer a sales tax.

As a rational citizen concerned with equality, fairness, liberty, and society, I prefer an income tax.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 5 years, 1 month ago

Would "income tax" be a flat tax, wealthy self-concerned member of the upper-middle class?

Thinking_Out_Loud 5 years, 1 month ago

The question assumes a false dichotomy, that those are the ONLY two options.From a policy standpoint, it's a nonsensical question.

oldexbeat 5 years, 1 month ago

It is the devil's choice that is being created falsely by Brownback and his Tea Party GOP Koch Brothers LLC ilk. The dumb part as pointed out above a few times is that you can clearly stop buying a lot of stuff -- thus lower sales tax revenues -- but to stop making more money is a harder decision. So a growing economy should keep income taxes -- the revenues will go up as the economy grows. Sales tax will go up as the country grows from the immigration over time, etc. and the huge families that no-birth control from me Brownback wants. So, let us see -- income tax equals growing production of goods and ideas ; Sales tax equals growing number of mouths to feed, and get clothes for...many poor people expected by Brownback, not many new bright companies coming to Kansas. About right.

eddieboy 5 years, 1 month ago

If there was a law requiring workers to pay an income tax (and there isn't), it would clearly be unconstitutional. So, I'll have to go with the sales tax. BTW, there is a standing reward of $50,000 to ANYONE who can find a US Federal law which requires any worker to pay an income tax. It has been tested many times in court. No one has ever found a law which has been broken by non-taxpayers, but it takes a lot of money and a lot of guts to take on the IRS. The IRS is nothing but the enforcement arm of a protection racket. - Yeah, we know you don't have to pay us taxes but we will make your life hell if you don't pay us. If you find the law, LMK, and I will help you collect the reward. (But no one ever has). Oh, and if you think are income taxes help pay for the Federal gov't. services, you are 100% incorrect.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

The law? How about Title 26 of the United States Code.

PS - it's not unconstitutional.

U.S. Constitution, amendment XVI The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Now where's my $50,000? I googled really hard for a few seconds to find that information for you. Pay up.

Carol Bowen 5 years, 1 month ago

Good job and two lessons learned.

  1. Just because one really believes something, that doesn't make it true.
  2. One cannot believe everything s/he reads.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 1 month ago

He said a "law", not a Constitutional amendment.
You lose.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

Read for comprehension.

Title 26. That's the law. Also known as Internal Revenue Code.

Definition of CODE

1: a systematic statement of a body of law; especially : one given statutory force

eddieboy 5 years, 1 month ago

wrong on all accounts. the supreme court ruled that the 16th amendment gave no new powers of taxation to the federal gov't. The Supreme Ct is the ultimate authority on the matter. Right? Google it. Sorry I didn't mean to get your hopes up,( no actually I did), but you will never find the law. Several former IRS agents have thought that they would make a quick $50k by finding the law. No one has been successful in finding the law yet. This offer of $50k has been available for many years to anyone that can find the law, as advertised many times in the NYT. Once again, no one has found it yet. If you can - more power to you. Yes, it is clearly unconstitutional. The original framers of the constitution were very adamant about this. Wages are not profit. Wages are a barter for payment. Profit is only derived from businesses. And, not one penny collected from individuals income taxes goes towards paying for any gov't service. All this money goes straight to the richest banking families in the world, whose banks make up the private corporation known as the Federal Reserve Google it really hard for a few more seconds. There is a very good documentary on this subject, available widely, entitled, "Freedom to Fascism". I recommend you watch it. Aaron Russo interviews many IRS execs and former agents. No one has ever found the law. It really is no different from any other collection racket in the Mafia. -Sure there's no law that you have to give the mafia $500 a week, but if you don't your business will burn to the ground. Many people know there is no law, but, very few elect to not pay (and, yes, I pay all my taxes) because the IRS has demonstrated what they will do to anyone who does not pay. Many people have not paid their taxes and won in court against the IRS but it is extremely expensive and time consuming to do so.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

Why don't you do some reading. Here's a great start:

It debunks every single one of your myths, including the idea that someone is out there genuinely ready to give out cash for pointing to the glaringly obvious law.

bender 5 years, 1 month ago

I grew up in a state that had a sales tax, but food and clothing were exempt (not restaurant food, just groceries). That made the sales tax less regressive as lower income people spend a higher percentage of their income on these basic necessities.

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