The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

September 19, 2013

Income tax is still fairer of the taxes

Thursday, September 19, 2013 — RALEIGH – If you read much about the history of taxation in the United States, you begin to realize that a driving force behind tax policy has been the idea of creating fairness between different classes of taxpayers.

Americans have never liked taxes, but they have always been with us.

While the history of federal taxation grabs most of the attention in the popular press, colonial and state taxation has a much longer and varied history.

From some of the earliest days of the Virginia colony, colonists paid a poll tax.

Today, people remember poll taxes as a means to prevent black voters in the south from casting ballots. But they began as a simple flat tax levied on every free man to pay for colonial administrations.

The tax gradually became less popular (until resurrected for the aforementioned voter suppression purposes) because people recognized that it wasn’t fair.

The wealthy could easily come up with a shilling to pay the tax; for a laborer, it might represent several days work.

Assessments on property gradually became the dominant form of taxation in the colonies, but from their beginning questions of fairness led to change.

The Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1643 imposed something called a “faculty tax” on the earnings of some professions. This predecessor of the income tax came in response to complaints by some colonists that the exclusive use of a property tax to raise revenue was unfair to farmers and merchants, as some professions largely escaped taxation because they owned little property.

Property taxes, in various forms, remained a staple of colonial and then state government revenue streams into the 20th century. By the turn of that century, states began leaving property taxes as the purview of local governments in favor of the income tax.

North Carolina adopted its modern income tax in 1919, though various business taxes had existed for decades.

During the Great Depression, property taxes and income taxes took huge hits. In response, this state and others adopted sales taxes to keep schools open and government operating.

Since then, some combination of income and sales taxes have made up the bulk of the state’s revenue stream.

Lately, state lawmakers have been pushing to change the balance. Legislators approved an overhaul of the state’s tax structure this year that cuts the corporate and personal income taxes and eliminates a tiered system in which higher earners paid higher rates.

Sen. Bob Rucho, a Charlotte Republican, continues to talk about completely eliminating income taxes while broadening the sales tax to cover services.

Rucho and some of his colleagues argue that eliminating the income tax will make North Carolina more competitive when it comes to industrial recruitment.

But the income tax, applied properly, remains a fairer tax. It recognizes that those who have benefited the most from an economic system supported by the structures of government should pay more to support those structures.

Not so long ago, a lot of political leaders – Democrat and Republican –- embraced that concept.

Scott Mooneyham is a syndicated columnist for Capitol Press Association and covers activities of the N.C. Legislature.

Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • Doug Creamer Friends and contentment

    Last week I made my annual trip up the mountain to Sparta. My friends have a secluded home near a babbling brook. Their home and property are a haven for peace. It’s a two-plus hour ride to their home that doesn’t feel that long because I look so forward to my time with this great couple. When I arrive, the conversation seems to pick up right where we left it the last time we saw each other.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thanks for the honest deed

    I would like to thank the person that found my wallet in the parking lot of Harris Teeter on July 23 and turned it in to the Albemarle Police.

    July 29, 2014

  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • We need your help

    Hurray for the Albemarle City Council. Council plans to battle N.C. Department of Transportation’s ranking of all 13 projects in Stanly County to the bottom of their priority list. Council is setting up petitions in various city buildings for citizens to sign.

    July 28, 2014

  • Council asks veterans to seek office

    The terms of office for the leaders of the Stanly County Veterans Council ended June 30. A call is being sent to veterans council members requesting candidates for the four elective offices of the council. A meeting has been set for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at the DAV building. All council members are urged to attend.

    July 28, 2014

  • Mike Walden The gains and gaps in our economy

    Twice a year, I pull out my cloudy crystal ball and attempt to make some predictions about the direction and pace of the North Carolina economy. I just finished my latest effort and, as usual, the results are a combination of pluses and minuses.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jason O. Boyd Yellow journalism takes on new form, people are dumber for it

    Time to get on the soapbox for a few minutes.
    Let me clear my throat. Eh ... hem!
    People are dumb.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Special election adds to the mix

    RALEIGH – A busy slate of judicial elections this November got even busier recently when Judge John Martin of the N.C. Court of Appeals announced his retirement.
    A special statewide election to fill Martin’s seat will be added to the general election ballot, joining the four N.C. Supreme Court seats and three N.C. Court of Appeals races already slated for this fall.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon Fake news or sign of some more trouble?

    RALEIGH – Of the three situations I can recall where agencies receiving large sums of taxpayer dollars wouldn’t divulge employees’ salaries, two of them ended badly. The third – involving a group of charter schools in Southeastern North Carolina – is playing out right now.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

    WASHINGTON - The good news is that after decades of furious growth, obesity rates finally seem to be leveling off in the U.S.. The bad news is that America's youth still appear to be dangerously unaware of the problem.

    July 23, 2014

House Ads
Seasonal Content