Sunday, September 09, 2007

GlennTax Travels: Part I

[Editor's note: For the love of Girtz! You go away on a quick, year-long vacay, and this is what happens to AthPo? Seriously guys. All righty, let's pick it up.]

GlennTax Travels, Part I
In which we explore stalking horses, and how you're helping big-box business get ahead.

So, the editorial board at the ABH thinks Glenn Richardson needs to give it up on his whole "GlennTax," "Tax Pony," "I wanna be your Speaker and your banker" ish. For what it's worth, they're 110% right, but I don't know if I want to see what comes next to replace the GlennTax. Anyway, this gives me a great opportunity to jump in with one of those rambling, half-ass analyses that I know we all enjoy. Buckle in tight, kids, 'cos I got a few things on my mind. So many things in fact, that they can only be thoroughly explored in a multi-part series that will be posted as I feel like it.

The Stalking Horse Theory:

Some bloggers believe that the 'Stache (that's hipster bloggerspeak for Richardson, if you're keeping score at home) has no intention of passing his plan, and is instead using it as a stalking horse for a much more "reasonable" plan (and by reasonable, I mean less overtly crappy) that he can bring in as a "compromise" measure (and by compromise, I mean that they're going to ram it down your throat the same way they do everything else) later down the road.

Some folks think the GlennTax is a placeholder, designed to rile people up enough that Glenn can then pull the plan and replace it with a similar idea proposed by his loyal minion, Jerry Keen (R-St. Simons). Keen's scheme would replace property taxes with an increase in the statewide sales tax. I don't need to tell you that this is a terrible idea, for many of the same reasons that the GlennTax itself is a bad idea. In fact, it's very much the same plan, although it is less ambitious in scope. Of course, being less ambitious in the scope of taxes you're getting rid of means that the numbers fail to add up in an even more egregious fashion.

For what it's worth, I'm inclined to think that this theory is at least possible. It's not outside the realm of possibility that the 'Stache and his posse know that Keen's plan is a political turd, and the only way to polish it is by making it stack up favorably against an even bigger, stinkier bill. However, on the other hand, I'm not sure that the Speaker's ego will let him knowingly introduce a straw plan to block for Keen's bill.

Wal-Mart to Athens, Thanks for picking up our tax bill!

Here's another point that hasn't gotten much air time with respect to the GlennTax. As anyone who's been following this thing knows, if it passes, your property taxes go bye-bye. Sounds great, right? I mean, heck, sign me up! But wait, it's not just your property taxes going away, it's everybody's property taxes going away, and that means mine, Heidi's, JMac's, and - hmmm, oh yeah - every mall, factory, private college, McWendyKing's, car dealership, and every other business in the state of Georgia. And did I mention that bane of progressive suburban existence, Wal-Mart? Y'see, the 'Stache wants to frame this debate around residential property taxes, and he would just as soon nobody think about the fact that (almost) all properties pay property taxes. What that means for you and me is that businesses get an oh-so-sweet tax break, while we get a somewhat less-than-sweet tax break that, depending on your income, consumption, etc, may or may not end up costing you more money. Put another way, we're going to lose the property tax revenue from the new Lowe's, and that money has to be made up somehow. Guess who's going to be making it up? Consumers.

And that's why the GlennTax should perhaps be called the "GlennTaxes," because he's making up for that revenue shortfall by introducing a whole host of brand new taxes on everything from the will you get your lawyer to draw up to your haircuts, your tax preparation, the guys who cut your lawn, even your freakin' babysitter. So, while your babysitter is calculating the sales tax you owe her for watching the rugrats while you spent a few hours at Cine, please rejoice in the fact that you are helping Lowe's and Wal-Mart duck their fair share of the tax burden.

Stay tuned for Part II of the GlennTax travels, in which we talk about the 'Stache's control issues and why even prominent Republicans are less than thrilled about this idea. Also, we show Elton the love.


Polusplagchnos said...

I'm ignorant. Do businesses pay sales taxes on the wholesale goods they purchase, or does it work more that a business purchases items wholesale in one place and then truck them into places with higher sales taxes? How much less are duty taxes, if there are any at all, minimal when compared with sales or property taxes? Or is it that things that cross state lines are only taxed federally for doing so rather than states, or is there no such thing as a state imposing a tax on goods that enter it (being that such an act violates the federal nature of the United States)?

Again, I simply don't know about any of this, but your point intrigues me. Or, uh, your point is intriguing to me.

Anonymous said...

Sales tax is paid only at the final purchase. If you buy a cup of coffee you pay sales tax, but Starbucks did not pay tax on the roasted beans, and the wholesaler did not pay tax when they bought the beans from the farmer.