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Truth in taxation and an educated, active citizenry

QuickPoint!

Various groups are organizing tax reform meetings throughout the state. The big question: How do we “fix” Oregon’s tax system. In reality, the goal is more like: How do we increase taxes?

Let’s assume the best of intentions — momentarily. Common sense tells us, before we start fixing something we should have an idea of what the problem is. Therefore, we should assemble basic information first. For example, how much do individual Oregonians pay in taxes?

The true level of individual taxation is continually understated. Some editorial boards, public officials and others like to keep that figure artificially low, which allows them to demand that businesses pay more. The truth is, companies only collect taxes. Ultimately, people — you and I — pay all taxes.

As consumers we pay taxes in the form of higher prices. Retirees who depend on investment income pay business taxes in the form of lower dividends. Employees pay with lower wages or benefits, and the unemployed pay with no job. A business tax is merely a hidden tax on people. To more accurately determine how much tax people pay, we should eliminate business taxes.

One could certainly expect that as people learn their true tax burden, they’d likely become more active citizens in public affairs — witness Measures 28 and 30. Those are two reasons why some editorial boards and public servants want you to believe the myth of business taxes.

Kurt T. Weber is vice president of Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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