Friday, September 25, 2009

Yea or Nay on Excise Tax question?

Another nice “fall” day yesterday. It was warm and sunny on the Gator homestead, although we did have a slight breeze. Since summer departed Tuesday we’ve had some of the nicest weather of the year. But, Whoa! That is about to come to a screeching halt. Tonight the state will have a widespread frost, even some spots along the coast. My town will probably escape it as it usually does the first two or three frosts.

I know how I’m going to vote in about six weeks on all but one of the measures facing us on the state ballot. That one remains the citizen initiative on the excise tax. There are good, valid reasons to vote “yes” and there are good, valid reasons to vote “no.” I’m finding most of the arguments on both sides challenging and I think I change my mind depending on whose thoughts I’m reading.

Philosophically I’m in favor of any kind of tax decrease. Cutting the excise tax that about 55% for the first six years is a great idea. The tax is artificial, though, and is only to give the local municipalities, which get it all, a source of revenue. That tax is not dedicated to the roads, however, and can be used anywhere the town wishes.

Why do I say it’s artificial? For openers, it’s not based on what anyone pays for the car but rather for the arbitrarily set Suggested Manufacturer’s List Price. There probably has been someone at some time that paid that price on the sticker, but I don’t know anyone who has. When did you last hear a friend proudly proclaiming, “I liked that price so I just paid it without questioning.”? Some bargain the prices better than others, but almost everyone is proud when they have talked the dealer down to where he expected to sell the car in the first place.

Secondly, I don’t understand why there’s a graduated tax that decreases in each of the first six years then stays the same. No one has ever convinced me that a brand new car causes more road problems than one that is six years old or older and therefore, needs to pay a larger share. I could feel that a fair, even excise tax for road use would be O.K. provided it were based on the actual need for a share of road maintenance costs.

The communities cry that they’ll have to increase property taxes to make up the difference. It amazes me that cutting the budget isn’t in the equation. The voters now approve or disapprove the school budget with an annual vote. Perhaps it’s now time to give the voters the same privilege for the non-school portion of the budget. That, of course, can be done with a “yes” vote in November.

What about the other side of that excise tax issue, big guy? Well, I’m not in favor of the question because of the sales tax and excise tax break it gives to purchasers of hybrids and other energy efficient vehicles. It’s a selfish reason. I’m not convinced I should be subsidizing those sales when the only beneficiaries are the car companies. This country and this state are going broke robbing from the taxpaying citizens to subsidize others.

So I’ll continue by search for truth and answers before November. As I said earlier, most of the questions are easy for me. This is turning out to be tough.


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