Taxation is not punishment | Letter

I read Ms. Radke’s evaluation of taxation — and her endorsement of Ms. Englund (Kirkland Reporter, Oct. 26) — and it saddened me. In her eyes, all taxation is punishment. That’s simply not so. Whether we impose a sales, property or income tax, it’s not punishment. It is simply the way we fund everything we expect our government to do. Build and maintain roads. Provide for public safety with a comprehensive criminal justice system. Maintain clean air and water. Fund schools from kindergarten through college. And so much more.

Punishment would be living without good schools, good roads, clean air and clean water. Living without those would be a punishment.

Moreover, I fail to understand Ms. Radke’s objection to an income tax. It appears she conflates percentages and real dollars.

She says, “With income taxes, the common way to pay less is to earn less. That doesn’t help you get ahead at all. Everyone would like to earn more — that’s part of the American dream — but with income taxes, the more you earn, the more the government takes away.”

That’s true…but not really. Let me ask Ms. Radke a question. Let’s assume Washington state imposes a one-percent income tax on earnings. Would she rather earn $30,000 and pay $300 in income tax and have $29,700 left; or would she prefer to earn $50,000, pay $500 in income tax and have $49,500 left? Either way, she paid only one percent.

I support an income tax because those who have studied taxation know that a sales tax is more onerous to those who earn less. That is, those who earn less pay more as a percentage of their income. And while Ms. Radke points out, “you have control over sales taxes,” that’s only partly true. It’s no secret that one could go to Oregon where there is NO sales tax. But assuming everyone figured out just how to lower or avoid sales taxes, Washington state would ultimately suffer — and either raise the sales tax or revert to an income tax.

Why not simply advocate for an income tax that taxes both earned income and investment income? Some candidates are even advocating for a state-based capital gains tax.

Ms. Radke, Republicans want all of us to believe the income tax is somehow evil or unfair — that it’s the bogeyman. But it’s not. An income tax is actually more fair than our current system.

John R. Scannell,


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