The truth about Arkansas's tax burden | Arkansas Blog

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: , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

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

  • Sunday and another open line

    Got anything for the open line?
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • But what about the Clintons? Last refuge of Trump, New York Times

    Trying to compare Donald Trump's reaction to the Russia investigation with Bill Clinton's dealings with Kenneth Starr should be a non-starter if the facts mattered. But these days — and to the New York Times — it ain't necessarily so.
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • Football is king, Bentonville edition

    Good analysis in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette of an unannounced Bentonville School Board vote last week to put $2 million into a football stadium for West High School despite board assurances in last May's tax election that no money would go to a football stadium.
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Jason Rapert vs. Wikipedia

    Sen. Jason Rapert against the world: Wikipedia edition.
    • Jan 23, 2016
  • Is Arkansas in or out on Kobach voter data effort?

    The Washington Post has published a map that counts Arkansas as among states that will "partially comply" with a sweeping request for voter data by the so-called election integrity commission set up by Donald Trump in an effort to cast doubt on Hillary Clinton's 3 million-vote popular defeat of him in 2016.
    • Jul 2, 2017
  • More on how highways were used to wipe out "blight" of non-white neighborhoods

    Vox, a news website that concerns itself with energy and other issues, has a fine piece, including before and after images, on the history of the U.S. interstate system and why roads were built through the middle of cities (unless people of influence stopped them — see Manhattan, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.)
    • Mar 22, 2016

People who saved…

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Sunday and another open line

    • Gftra - I have a 98% Golden/2% Chow that goes practically everywhere I do. He…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Sunday and another open line

    • A new word for today--"Whatabouism" Yes, there is even a Wikipedia entry that describes it…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Sunday and another open line

    • Biggins : I'm sure your golden retriever was at the hospital to do the lab…

    • on July 23, 2017

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation