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The Debate: What’s to be done about taxes?
by Dee Burningham
Oct 16, 2011 | 1864 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Former DEA official
DEE BURNINGHAM Former DEA official
Most of my life I have felt that taxes are not a bad thing. In fact as I looked at a list of all my federal, state and local (county, city, school and special) taxes paid, it’s usually about a third of gross income. A pretty large figure. And I’m glad we can do it.

May I now suggest a worthwhile exercise. Make two parallel columns. In the first make an inclusive list of the taxes we pay, with eight to 10 categories: federal, state, local, etc., is a good start. The second column is for listing a similar number of your family expenses. Then rank order all the items from both lists from first to last in order of importance and value to you. Then we can rate or rank their value to you and me. Perhaps this goes too far, but you could also add two more columns with the estimated dollar amounts for each expenditure. It now has the looks of a budget. Wow, someone could even polish it as an illustrative teaching tool, Then send it to the Davis Clipper, they could print it and we would have an economic model of allocating limited resources to unlimited wants.

It’s the dialogue, whether the interaction with an analytical chart, or the exchange of opinions and information, the listening to others not just our own party and friends who already think as we do: those are the conditions in which people learn and compromise. They can often see in a new light and settle for a win-win outcome. That’s my primary hope for us as individuals and for our elected representatives.

Now, let’s take another opportunity to exchange ideas: Which of the following possible changes in our government’s tax and service programs are topics you would like to see in future Clipper columns, letters to the editor or in other public forums?

Federal taxes and programs:

1. Social Security — a cost and benefit comparison to private programs. Also possible changes to assure adequate funding for the future.

2. Medicaid — Utah’s proposed plan

3. National Defense — funding, future challenges and problems, and learning from the past.

4. Public education — federal programs and brainstorming a radical approach to federal funding to the states—could make Utah kids the No. 1 benefactors.

5. Closing tax loopholes — exploring loopholes for the wealthy and not wealthy.

State taxes and programs:

1. Possible new sources of state tax revenue

• eliminate certain state sales tax exemptions

• eliminate most state sales tax exemptions and reduce the general rate.

2. Opportunities for increased fairness and equity in Utah school financing.

3. Reasons to reconsider the state income flat tax.

4. What happened to the one billion revenue growth that could have gone to Utah’s school children?

5. Do we still believe in a taxpayer effort equalization in rich and poor school districts?

6. Who benefits most from taxation? Public employees, business men, or children, the wealthy, the poor.

I hope these two opportunities to exchange ideas on taxes and government tax programs will result in our coming together amongst the participants.

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