Tax cuts, tax fairness and tax nonsense

Governor Christie wants to reduce the state income tax by 10 percent, a cut that would benefit all taxpayers, especially

Governor Christie wants to reduce the state income tax by 10 percent, a cut that would benefit all taxpayers, especially upper income individuals and households who pay the bulk of income taxes in the state because New Jersey has a steep progressive income tax.  That is, as an individual’s income increases, the tax rate increases on the additional income he or she earns.  In other words, under a progressive income tax the government punishes high income earners just because they earn more money than their fellow citizens.

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Do most Americans realize that a “heavy” progressive income tax is one of the ten planks of The Communist Manifesto and fulfills another Marxist notion, “From each according to his ability to each according to his needs?”  Why do we have a tax system that embodies an alien economic, social and political philosophy?  And why do most Americans support a tax code that is based on envy and the redistribution of income, two foremost principles of the Marxist agenda, but also support higher taxes on upper income citizens?  Shockingly, some self described conservatives also are in favor of higher marginal tax rates. 

And in New Jersey, no GOP state legislator has called for abolishing our Marxist tax code.  Hmmm. 

Chris Christie should call for the abolition of the income tax, not just a 10 percent cut, because it is economically destructive and morally untenable.  The income tax should be phased out over three years, which would make New Jersey one of the most attractive states to do business and work.  Think of all the businesses that would relocate to New Jersey, an income tax-free zone in the Mid-Atlantic region of the country.  Think of all the businesses that would move from New York City, Pennsylvania and other states and overseas to New Jersey.  Moving trucks would flood I-95, I-80 and all the state roads.  The race would be on to enjoy income tax freedom in New Jersey.

Although suburban property taxes would not be affected by abolishing the state income tax, there would be massive tax relief throughout the state.  And isn’t that would taxpayers are complaining about…not enough tax relief?  For some families, the state income tax is just as much or greater than their property taxes.  So which taxes are reduced is irrelevant.  Keeping more of your income should be the goal of all taxpayers. 

But how would the State of New Jersey fund urban public schools, the prime recipients of the funds expropriated from primarily suburban individuals and households via the income tax?  The tax issue—whether it is the income or property tax–is really a spending issue. 

(Public education, for the record, is also one of the ten planks of The Communist Manifesto.)

Urban school districts cannot pay for their own schools at the current level of expenditures without massive subsidies from Trenton, and thanks to New Jersey Supreme Court rulings over the years, the state government is legally obligated to inject billions of tax dollars to provide for a “thorough and efficient” education in Newark, Paterson, Camden, Jersey City, etc.

To end this injustice, Governor Christie should call for a constitutional amendment ending the thorough and efficient clause in the state’s constitution.  This would end immediately the political wrangling over school funding, and terminate the notion once and for all that the courts and politicians are competent to determine education issues.  In other words, education is too important to be left to justices and politicians.  

But how will urban youngsters get a quality education?  That is the challenge urban parents face.  The current paradigm, taxing suburbanites because that’s where the income is, is grossly unfair.  Urban schools are too big and too costly.  Thus, the solution is to replace big expensive urban schools with learning centers for 100-150 students throughout the Newarks, Asbury Parks, etc. and staff them with dedicated teachers supported by parent and retired teacher volunteers.  In addition, the sale of urban schools would bring billions of dollars into the cities’ or state’s coffers that could be the basis for endowment funds that would pay for future expenditures.

The learning centers’ operating expenses would be paid by tuition, fees, gifts, grants, etc., the way some (many) nonprofit organizations raise revenue to fulfill their missions. 

Unless we overhaul public education in New Jersey, homeowners will be going to their grave complaining about high property taxes.  Why homeowners continue to complain about property taxes when suburbanites assert that they are happy with their local schools and police departments, the two most expensive local expenditures, is a mystery.  However, abolishing the state income tax, not just making a 10 percent cut, would end the nonsense on both sides of the aisle in the state legislature about whose ox should be gored by a Marxist code. 

Murray Sabrin is professor of finance at Ramapo College and blogs at





Tax cuts, tax fairness and tax nonsense