Editorials and Opinions

Opposing Viewpoints: Question three is going to deplete state resources

By Andrea Braver
Published: October 2010

The three percent Sales Tax Relief Act, which will appear on the November 2 ballot all over Massachusetts, questions whether or not our state should decrease sales taxes from the current 6.25 percent to the lowered three percent.
Enacting a law lowering the Massachusetts sales tax sounds appealing to many consumers. However, what voters fail to realize is the severity of this action.
While most voters who vote for the reduction of the sales tax are doing so for the sole purpose of saving themselves’€and for that matter, only themselves’€money, the truth of the matter is this selfish intent is harmful for the state of Massachusetts. A higher sales tax, while it is seemingly stolen out of our very pockets, goes directly toward improving our state.
The Massachusetts Coalition for Our Communities, which is funded by the Massachusetts Teachers Association, is opposed to this drastic reduction. These groups are aware of the repercussions the extreme lowering of sales taxes would cause and have made a selfless sacrifice for the better of our state.
Members of the coalition are aware of the fact that lowering sales taxes in Massachusetts does not rid the state of the problems it encounters and salaries it is required to pay.
What a majority of voters who are voting for the sales tax reduction fail to realize is that the money earned in sales tax goes toward our government funding.
Teachers, for example, and public government workers, are paid from state funding. A decrease in the sales taxes would either forcibly lower these hard workers’ salaries drastically, or take the money necessary to maintain their salaries from elsewhere.
If the sales tax is decreased, the money lost from the former sales tax needs to be made up somehow.
The government will not make up for this lack of money on its own; it will take the money through additional, higher taxes. Citizens of Massachusetts end up paying money either way’€whether it is in sales taxes or in monthly salary taxes, it is irrelevant. Citizens are still paying money and it is still being detracted from their salaries in some way or other.
In addition, the sales tax is an extremely fair tax that everyone pays.
Every single person who buys an item’€ranging from a pencil to a wide-screen television’€in Massachusetts pays sales tax on this object. No one receives a “get out of jail free card, allowing him/her to evade paying this tax.
It is inevitable and there is no way around it. If 1 million people buy an item in Massachusetts and subsequently, pay the 6.25 percent sales tax for it, a hefty amount of money is raised.
However, if the same number of people each buys an item, while paying a mere three percent sales tax, significantly less money is raised.
Due to the fact that the money is still necessary for Massachusetts, it will need to be raised elsewhere.
As a result, it will come out of the incomes of average citizens of Massachusetts who may not be able to afford such an item in the first place.
In addition, since taxes do not include minors and those who are not citizens of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, the amount of money extracted from citizens may very well be higher than if there were simply a higher sales tax.
After all, short-term struggle equals long term gain’€not vice versa.

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