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Tax Effect Hazy at Best
“We haven’t had a tax increase for 10 years.”
This plaintive response came from one of our legislators at the Capitol last week. I felt this was almost the same as saying that he hadn’t had an auto accident in 10 years and was due. A tax increase and an auto accident can both be tragedies.
One of the many taxes that are now the law of the land is an increase – almost a doubling – of the tax on cigarettes. I am not a user, but I know that this increase will trigger some reactions from the public.
Prohibition is a word used to describe the scarcity of a commonly used product through governmental action. Bootlegging is the public’s response. Minnesota has four adjacent states which will have lower-priced tobacco products after July, when our tax goes into effect. There has also always been a pipeline of illegal cigarettes that are brought into the state from the Carolinas without any federal or state taxes applied.
This tax is designed to bring in $400 million. I believe that with the bootlegging that will naturally occur, the state will collect only a portion of that, which is sad, for as I understand it, this is the money designed to take care of the state’s share of the Viking stadium.
The tragedy which may occur is that the state will feel that, with the loss of taxes, it will have to stamp out the bootlegging. This would prompt border inspections and high-speed chases.
No Charity in Loophole
A charity used to be an organization that did real charitable work, like helping the elderly, poor, sick and disabled, and could seek tax-free status for doing so.
These days a charity is a group of lobbyists spending money from wealthy donors on trying to influence elections. The 501C4 status allowing this practice of getting tax-free status to spend money on elections is a joke. This is not what a charitable tax-free status was intended for and is morally corrupt and legally questionable.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people and the unsavory practice of using money supposedly intended for charitable purposes for buying elections went into full swing last election cycle, previous abuses that happened were inconsequential compared to the blatant buying and outright owning of politicians that is occurring now.
Our once-great and nearly clean election process has been corrupted by elitist, right-wing billionaires and politicians along with the far right of the Supreme Court who believe that the corporations and wealthy should rule the country for themselves and that us regular, working folks are just lucky to be allowed to exist in their world.
Check the Manual
It seems Rep. Bob Barrett has trouble with the facts. The February ruling from the Office of Administrative Hearings where he was found to have committed a misdemeanor, fined and reprimanded by the three-judge panel for having false information in a campaign flyer is one huge example.
After going through all that, one would expect that Rep. Barrett would be very careful in what he writes for the public. However, in his 2013 Legislative Survey, on question eight, he makes the statement: “The Chisago County Auditor and Assessor are currently elected positions.”
The county auditor is, in fact, an elected position. The county assessor is not. Chisago County wants both the auditor and treasurer elected positions to be appointed by the board once their current terms expire in 2015 and would like Rep. Barrett to carry that legislation.
There’s a big difference between a county assessor and a county treasurer. Once again, a simple check of the Legislative Manual or other resources and Rep. Barrett would have avoided both these mistakes.