Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The truth about Arkansas's tax burden

Posted By on Wed, Oct 3, 2012 at 9:27 AM

BRING SALT: When Koch Arkansas figurehead Teresa Oelke starts talking tax burden on their political tours and free feeds, check Dumas for the facts.
  • BRING SALT: When Koch Arkansas figurehead Teresa Oelke starts talking tax burden on their political tours and free feeds, check Dumas for the facts.
The Kansas billionaires, the Koch brothers, are ceaselessly pumping the message through their Arkansas affiliate, Americans for Prosperity, that Arkansas is a high tax state, based on cooked numbers from a conservative interest group.

Ernie Dumas explains this week that the only meaningful measure of tax burden — gross taxes on a per capita basis — puts Arkansas about 30 spots down from the 14th claimed by the Kochheads.

But first, let's acknowledge a small truth in the AFP ads. State taxes and debt did rise significantly from 1999 through 2006. But the governor who pushed all those taxes and new debt was Mike Huckabee, a Republican. He raised more taxes — three sales tax increases, a temporary personal and corporate income tax increase, motor fuel taxes, tobacco taxes, liquor taxes, a giant tax on nursing home residents, and others — and increased the state debt more than any governor in Arkansas history. He coerced Democratic and Republican legislators and, at one point, the voters in going along with the taxes and borrowing.

The AFP ads, using figures from the business-oriented Tax Foundation, say Arkansas this year has the 14th highest per-capita tax burden in the country and a worse-than-average business tax climate.

The Tax Foundation doesn't rely on the actual taxes collected by each state; that's too simple. It constructs a theory about taxes and formulas to implement it so that states with income taxes tend to look worst.

If you add all the taxes actually collected by the state and local governments and divide the total by the population — you can do the numbers at home — Arkansas comes out not 14th but 47th among the states. All the surrounding states are higher. Now, the states distribute the tax burden in different ways, and Arkansas does it most unfairly, putting it most heavily on working folks with modest incomes with sales and excise taxes. But real numbers are the only way to measure each state's tax policy.

The Tax Foundation abuses poor states like Arkansas unmercifully. It says Arkansas levies a 3-percent surtax on corporation income, a brief tax that the Democratic Arkansas legislature repealed in 2005. It assigns to Arkansas taxpayers a share of the mineral severance taxes collected in other states like Alaska, Texas, Oklahoma and Wyoming. See, since Alaska's 22.5 percent production tax on oil and gas (thanks, Gov. Sarah Palin!) is paid by the producers and not by local people, the Tax Foundation assigns those taxes to people in other states, like Arkansas, that consume the petrochemical products. Florida levies a high sales tax but the Tax Foundation says tourists pay it so it doesn't count as much of a per-capita tax for Floridians.

You will note that states without income taxes show up as low-tax states in Tax Foundation rankings although the actual numbers show them as high-tax states.

You can believe the Kochs' hired hand, Teresa Oelke, and her pack of policy fiction, or maybe you want to look at the table compiled by state tax administrators, which has Arkansas at 47.

Tags: , , , , ,


Speaking of...

Comments (13)

Showing 1-13 of 13

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-13 of 13

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Thursday's open line and the daily video

    Here's the open line and the daily video.
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • UPDATE: Ted Suhl gets seven years, $200,000 fine for bribery

    Ted Suhl was sentenced this morning by federal Judge Billy Roy Wilson on four counts of attempting to bribe a state official to help his mental health business supported by Medicaid money. He received 84 months and a $200,000 fine and is to report to prison in early January. He will appeal.
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • Question raised on Dallas Cowboy gift to NLR cops

    Blogger Russ Racop raises an interesting question, as he sometimes does, about Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' gift of free tickets for North Little Rock cops to attend a Dallas Cowboy football game.
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Not everyone is in Tom Cotton fan club

    Conservative New York newspaper labels Tom Cotton and others "traitors" for injecting themselves into presidential diplomacy with Iran.
    • Mar 10, 2015
  • Four little words for equality: Civil rights bill filed for sexual orientation, gender identity

    Today, Rep. Greg Leding filed HB 1959, which adds four words to the state civil rights law to prohibit discrimination in employment, public accommodations, property transactions, credit or the political process on grounds of "sexual orientation, gender identity." The law already protects in cases of race, religion, national origin or disabilities.
    • Mar 9, 2015
  • UPDATE: Hutchinson moves to cover himself on cut to War Memorial Stadium

    Gov. Asa Hutchinson apparently felt the burn from KARK's exclusive Tuesday night on his plans to cut state support of War Memorial Stadium in half beginning July 1, 2018. He has a so-far secret plan to make the stadium self-sustaining. We bet that doesn't include state support.
    • Oct 20, 2016

People who saved…

Most Shared

  • Issue 3: blank check

    Who could object to a constitutional amendment "concerning job creation, job expansion and economic development," which is the condensed title for Issue 3 for Arkansas voters on Nov. 8?
  • Little Rock police kill man downtown

    Little Rock police responding to a disturbance call near Eighth and Sherman Streets about 12:40 a.m. killed a man with a long gun, Police Chief Kenton Buckner said in an early morning meeting with reporters.
  • From the mind of Sol LeWitt: Crystal Bridges 'Loopy Doopy': A correction

    Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is installing Sol Lewitt's 70-foot eye-crosser "Wall Drawing 880: Loopy Doopy," waves of complementary orange and green, on the outside of the Twentieth Century Gallery bridge. You can glimpse painters working on it from Eleven, the museum's restaurant, museum spokeswoman Beth Bobbitt said
  • Ted Suhl loses another bid for new trial; faces stiff sentencing recommendation

    Ted Suhl, the former operator of residential and out-patient mental health services, has lost a second bid to get a new trial on his conviction for paying bribes to influence state Human Services Department policies. Set for sentencing Thursday, Suhl faces a government request for a sentence up to almost 20 years. He argues for no more than 33 months.
  • Football and foster kids

    It took a football stadium to lay bare Republican budget hypocrisy in Arkansas.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation