Taxes and spending: Arkansas leads country in local sales tax rates while state starves services to cater to rich and special interests | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Taxes and spending: Arkansas leads country in local sales tax rates while state starves services to cater to rich and special interests

Posted By on Sun, Feb 17, 2019 at 8:59 AM

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A reader sends a link to a stunning top 10 compilation by salestaxhandbook.com: A ranking of local sales tax burdens shows Arkansas cities occupy 12 of the top 17 places on the list, with Gould leading the nation with a combined sales tax rate of 11.5 percent.
The top 20 includes three more cities at 11 percent in addition to those shown in the table excerpted above — Hazen, Des Arc and Keiser. The total rate includes the state's 6.5 percent levy.

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Note that the Delta accounts for many of the high sales tax rates, a generally impoverished area.

Context: The Arkansas legislature just completed action on an estimated $150 million income tax cut that will primarily benefit millionaires. Among those deprived of general revenue produced by that tax — in addition to schools, public safety and health care — are cities and counties, which receive state "turnback" money.

More context: The state is cutting Medicaid coverage for working poor. The state is cutting mental health support for the poor. Schools are regularly getting less than required to maintain sufficient public education. The state has cut support for medical services such as family planning for poor women. The state is squirreling away money to build a corporate welfare treasury. Legislative leaders have worked out a deal with Big Tobacco to put a nominal tax burden on tobacco (and a 50 percent tax increase on medical marijuana) in return for tax breaks and regulatory protection. This is Tobacco's condition for allowing a pittance to be taken to support UAMS research into a disease, cancer, caused by tobacco.

When money is short, what do you do in Arkansas? Raise the sales tax.

See Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to make permanent a general sales tax for highways and a new sales tax on motor fuel and a whopping new tax on non-polluting electric cars, hundreds of which don't create the damage of a trucking rig.

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