State Senator Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) wants to raise the top income tax rate from 8.97 percent to 10.75 percent on incomes above one million dollars. The senator claims hiking the highest marginal tax rate is necessary to provide tax relief to New Jersey’s homeowners. She stated, “It’s really about fairness. This governor has coddled the wealthy, but they need to pay their fair share” (emphasis added). Say what?
Governor Christie has not been “coddling” high-income earners in the state. He has been “protecting” them from the likes of Senator Turner who apparently believes the government has an unlimited claim on people’s wages and salaries, especially if they have a seven-figure income. In addition, taxing one group of citizens in order to give money to another group of citizens is nothing more than legalized theft, pure and simple.
Government is supposed to tax the people in order to pay for services that promote the “general welfare.” Instead, upper income individuals, families and business owners have been taxed at much higher rates—the progressive income tax–not because they receive more benefits from the government, but because they have the money that is an easy target for the politicians to redistribute (confiscate).
These confiscated dollars make the politicians look good in the eyes of some voters; most editorial writers are supportive of politicians who preserve, defend and expand the welfare state, congratulating them for their “compassion.” Hogwash. Taking money by force and giving it to another citizen who is in “need” is a prime example of “phony philanthropy.”
Although some middle income and virtually all low-income families and individuals as well as seniors get more from government than they pay in taxes, the result is to make a large segment more dependent on the government’s (taxpayers’) largesse for their basic needs. In short, politicians like Shirley Turner think they are on a moral mission to preserve and expand the welfare state. Moreover, Senator Turner misdiagnosis the tax problem in New Jersey when she asserts, “The problem in this state is not income taxes. It’s property taxes, and that’s why people are leaving.”
People are leaving New Jersey because of high property taxes and high income taxes. She apparently is not aware of all the upper income New Jerseyans who are legal residents of Florida and other low tax states.
High school property taxes would not exist if parents had to pay tuition, fees, etc., for their children’s education. Barring a ‘revolution” in how public schools are paid for, there is only one rational solution for high property taxes in New Jersey; school officials, mayors and councils have to reduce the costs of public education and police departments, the two most expensive expenditures at the local level.
If Senator Turner thinks the State of New Jersey is on a sound moral and legal foundation in raising the income tax rate on some of its citizens, why does she not propose that her low income constituents take the money directly from residents of Princeton and other high income areas without waiting for the state to hike tax rates? If Senator Turner and her colleagues in the legislature object to “cutting out” the intermediary, the tax collector, then they are defending legalized theft and plunder, higher marginal tax rates. In short, their moral compass is not different from the street thug who says “Your money or your life.”
Murray Sabrin is professor of finance at Ramapo College and blogs at www.MurraySabrin.com.