Posted by Jeff Woods on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 12:54 PM
Tennessee might rank near the bottom nationally in education spending, per capita income and nearly every other quality-of-life category ever devised. But we remain near the top in one measure. Our tax system is really great at sticking it to the poor and middle class.
According to a new study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Tennessee’s taxes are the nation’s sixth most regressive.
In all the Institute’s “Terrible 10” states, the bottom 20 percent pay up to six times as much of their income in taxes as their wealthy counterparts. Washington State is the most regressive, followed by Florida, South Dakota, Illinois, Texas, Tennessee, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Alabama. In these states, the study says, middle-income families pay up to three times as high a share of their income as the wealthiest families and low-income families pay up to six times as much. Low-income Tennessee families pay taxes at an effective rate that is four times the rate for the top 1 percent.
In a news release on the study, Tennesseans for Fair Taxation points out that we’ll never fix this glaring inequity without a broad-based, progressive income tax, and the legislature is about to vote to amend the state constitution to ban that.
The proposal for a constitutional amendment to ban Tennessee from ever having a broad-based income tax is making its way through the General Assembly this year. If it receives the required two-thirds vote of both houses, it will go on the ballot in November 2014 for a vote of the citizens. If it passes, it will lock Tennessee into its dubious status among the “Terrible Ten”. This measure has been promoted by a small part of the wealthiest 1 percent in Tennessee who want to enthrone themselves and their heirs at the top of society and frustrate the ambitions of anyone who happened to be born less fortunate. This is the same group that pushed for the abolition of Tennessee’s inheritance tax last year.
Funny, the governor didn’t mention any of this in his State of the State address. Maybe next year.