The Morality of Taxes

Sun reporter Michael Dresser provides virtually glowing commentary in beginning his article about the new “Millionaire’s bracket”.

What does this have to do with morality? Read below the fold to find out more!

It’s quite an exclusive club, Maryland’s new millionaires’ tax bracket. A little more than 6,000 households statewide qualify for the distinction – more than 40 percent of whom reside in Montgomery County….

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…With the General Assembly’s passage of the new 6.25 percent top tax rate on incomes above $1 million, and Gov. Martin O’Malley’s signing of the bill yesterday, Maryland has apparently become the first state to create an actual millionaires’ bracket.

Some other states have created high-income tax brackets – some paying rates that make Maryland’s levy look like a bargain – but they kick in at lower thresholds. For instance, New Jersey residents in the top income bracket pay a rate of 8.97 percent but don’t receive the cachet of being in a millionaires’ club because it applies to all income above $500,000.

Democrats even found the opportunity to trot out cheerleaders to talk about how great it was that Annapolis was going to screw them tax them more:

“I’ve had numerous people come up to me in the course of these last few months and whisper to me that they are in that highest bracket of millionaires and they are willing and they are able to pay their fair share,” he said.

By the end of the session, the idea of taxing the rich wasn’t looking so bad to many of the Assembly’s leaders. O’Malley jumped aboard the repeal bandwagon and re-endorsed the millionaires’ tax.

Ed Hale, chief executive of First Mariner Bank in Baltimore, said he told O’Malley the computer tax had to go – even if he had to pay more in income tax.

“Any self-respecting person that was wealthy enough could pay more tax just because of the quality of life in the state of Maryland,” he said. “It’s much ado about nothing for a very few people.”

Which is fantastic. Maybe Ed Hale can pay my taxes too if he thinks it’s so awesome. And just to prove the point how awesome this all is in the eyes of the Sun and the eyes of Annapolis Democrats, let’s go to an example:

The average income reported by those in the new bracket was $3.1 million. That translates to an extra $15,000 a year for three years until the surcharge sunsets – or just about the $45,000 that would put a mid-range BMW in the three-car garage – compared with the law at the beginning of the session. (In some cases, some of that extra cost could be offset by federal tax deductions.)

That argument is, of course, ridiculous. It is ridiculous to think that a millionaire is being hosed out of a BMW because of the new O’Malley taxes. The millionaire’s are going to miss the money just like anybody else is. Of course, what cheerleaders for the O’Malley tax won’t tell you is the fact that $45,000 out of the pocket of somebody who qualifies for this tax bracket may be reducing that individual’s capability to send that money directly back to the community, whether it be in the form of charitable donations or continued reinvestment into the local economy. That $45,000 could be better spent on job creation in the private sector than it will certainly be spent in the black hole that is Annapolis.

But the conversation we need to be having here has nothing to do with how poorly government wastes money, or how much better the private sector can spend it. It actually deals with the moral questions of taxes. How can government retain the moral high ground, particularly a government that claims that it is for the working men and women of Maryland, when most of the impact of the O’Malley Recession is being felt by these same work class folks? To paraphrase George Bailey, the working class people who are most hurt by what O’Malley and company are doing, they are the ones who do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this state.

So how come a disproportionate burden is placed on the middle and working class families of Maryland to pay for programs that make rich urban liberals feel better?

What we have right now in Annapolis is a situation involving taxes and the question of morality. How can government remain moral when government is doing its part to make it impossible for Maryland’s working class families to survive financially? Why should parents who want to raise their children in the same communities in which they grew up be forced to choose between making ends meet or moving to another state in order to relieve themselves of the financial burden of living in Maryland? Why should the middle and working classes be forced to pay for unnecessary programs to which they receive no benefit? And how can Government maintain maintain its own sense of morality when it continues to ask more and more of citizenry in the middle of an economic downturn when this same citizenry is already overburdened with oppressive taxation at all levels.

The moral question of taxes is whether or not taxes in and of themselves are moral. The question is whether or not those who make tax policy, those who think that the citizenry is nothing more than a checkbook, those who believe that by taking more and more money away from taxpayers government can make taxpayers more economically viable, have the moral compass to do the right thing and reduce the oppressive burden on Maryland’s taxpayers. And given the position of O’Malley and the legislative leadership, by their actions to raise more taxes and spend more money when we can least afford it, I think we have the answer to those questions.


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