Saturday, February 24, 2024

Sales tax takes from poor, rewards wealthy

| December 13, 2005 11:00 PM

To the Editor:

The worst aspect of Ralph Heinert's suggestion that Montana needs a sales tax is that it would do nothing to solve the problem of school funding but would greatly change who pays taxes here.

A sales tax would lower the taxes paid by the wealthy and increase them for our poorest citizens. In general, lower paid workers pay 3 percent of their wages in sales tax while the wealthiest pay about 1 percent. The poor spend all they make and so would be taxed on their whole salary while the wealthy would pay taxes only on a small amount of their income.

Ralph's suggestion that we must tax our tourists shows a lack of information on his part. Tourists spend money on gas, lodging, gambling etc., which are already taxed. Taxes on any other items would mainly be paid by the rest of us - while out of state landowners would pay less. Any calculation of revenue from a sales tax would have to be tempered by the loss of revenue from sales to citizens of Wyoming, Idaho, and Washington who invade Montana to escape high taxes on sales at home. The commerce in RVs is a huge addition to our economy. Any revenue from sales taxes would be offset by loss of tax dollars on profits from these sales as well as the license fees buyers pay to the state of Montana.

I'm afraid Ralph sees the sales tax as a simple solution to our education funding problem. It is not. A sales tax is a complex idea with many questions on how to decide what is taxed. But always the biggest problem is the fact that the wealthy would gain and the poor would pay.

Taking money from the poor to reward the wealthy is not my kind of Christianity.

Eileen Carney