3 for All

“Amendment 3 would handcuff future residents” reads one headline. Another says “Amendment 3 leads to dead-end road.” Then “Anti tax measure draws outside support” warns another, implying that evil people from other states are trying to manipulate Tennesseans into their tax ban nightmare.

All this over the wonderful prospect that Tennesseans can continue to keep some of their earnings rather than turn it over to wasteful government bureaucrats like the ones running Washington, D.C.

Why so much hysteria?

The Commercial Appeal editorial board acknowledges that the ban only keeps what we have already been enjoying. It’s a ruse they use to convince us that there is no need for this amendment. That’s one method of attack: why rock the boat? Then they go on to say that Mississippi has a state income tax and “seems to be doing quite well” saying the state is attracting outside business and more people are moving there.

If that’s true it’s because businesses and citizens are fleeing taxes in Memphis that are so high, even a state income tax is better. Can you imagine what would happen if we added a state income tax onto our high property and sales taxes here? Do you think it would make more people want to stay here? No, it’s really an argument for the ban if you look a little deeper into the issue.

Then there is the argument that the poor are saddled with much of the taxation. So everybody should get saddled with more taxation? Isn’t this the redistribution Obama is trying to accomplish? Yes.

Others argue that the tax ban threatens our future income in Tennessee. Except that a lot of people and businesses who have fled high income tax states have helped us and will continue to come here and form businesses if they can rest assured they won’t be going right back into the situation they left.

Erica Thomas, a steering committee member of Vote No on 3, really gets into the hysteria area. She writes that the effect of the ban will be to raise other taxes. “Amendment 3 means Tennessee’s combined state and local sales taxes, already among the highest in the nation, will go into the double digit stratosphere – to 11, 12, 13 percent. Hardworking Tennesseans will be forced by Amendment 3 to pay higher prices for food, clothing and other basic needs.”

This was the same argument used for pre-K funds, which Memphians soundly defeated. If you’ll recall, we were warned that property taxes would go sky high and sales taxes, too, if the tiny pre-K tax didn’t go through. Fortunately, we didn’t fall for that and taxes haven’t gone up.

State Senator Brian Kelsey rebuts Ms. Thomas, too. “Tennessee has increased revenue over the last three years while at the same time cutting four different taxes – the sales tax on food, the Hall tax on interest and dividends, the gift tax and the inheritance tax.” Interesting, no?

He also adds that “Amendment 3 would prohibit imposition of local or state payroll taxes.” So much for her argument.

Who’s to say that legislators would even handle the income tax money well? We see what happens in Washington with our hard earned income tax money: shrimp on the treadmill programs, bunnies getting Swedish massages and studies that confirm what everyone already knows. It doesn’t go to good things or causes. Take a look at the potholes in our streets and our deteriorating power grids. Taxes have not helped them.

You can’t base a vote on what might happen if you do it. Let’s not deal in hypotheticals. Take it for what it’s worth. A tax ban is a good thing. My motto has always been “whatever the tax, whatever they say, the answer to raising taxes is ALWAYS no.”

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