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They can't get every one wrong

November 29, 2011 - Lee Smith
Well, mark the calendar. The editor of the Sentinel (the most conservative newspaper in the state, says Rolling Stone) agrees with an editorial, or part of it, that appeared Tuesday in the StarTribune.

Usually, I find StarTrib editorials too wonkish or, more fundamentally, too passionate about government solutions for everything. (Usually to fix a previous government solution that didn’t work. You’d think they’d take the clue.) But Tuesday’s approach to the Minnesota state tax system was better.

The state has a three-legged stool for revenue: income taxes, the sales tax and local property taxes. The editorial suggests these are out of whack, making the stool wobbly. But unlike you’d expect, the Trib doesn’t back Gov. Mark Dayton’s tax hike on the wealthy. Rather, it reasonably assesses the problem.

One possible fix: Extending the sales tax to include services. In turn, the sales tax rate could be lowered for everyone. This makes sense because there has been a shift to a more service-based economy.

Closing tax loopholes also would help. What’s interesting is what would be good for Minnesota also would work on the federal level. Tax reform — that is, making taxes make common sense — would help with the deficit problem. Kill the loopholes, then flatten and simplify the taxes.

People may argue that taking away current tax breaks is tantamount to a tax increase, but it’s not. If you look at the issue from square one, how should taxes work? They should be assessed in a straightforward manner without favor. If you object (as do I) to many government services, that is a different battle. But on taxes, argue for a broad base, with flat, low rates, not for special breaks here and there. Loopholes just spark resentment and lobbying for fresh loopholes.


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