david

David Dunn-Rankin

One of our thoughtful readers wrote me a note disagreeing with me in such a polite way I wanted to share much of their note with everyone else.

“I am really confused by the article rewritten by David Dunn-Rankin – Living in a Crazy Crime Wave.

“First off, he states: ‘Florida intentionally chose to shift the state and local tax burden onto the shoulders of the lowest wage earners in order to make it more attractive for retirees to move here.’ We have never had a state income tax in Florida – so how has that shifted?  

“David also writes, ‘The bottom 20 percent, those making less than $18,700 a year, pay 12.7 percent of their income in state and local taxes. The top 1 percent of income earners in Florida pay only 2.3 percent of their income in state and local taxes.’ I do not understand this at all – again, we do not pay state income tax. K.”

Thank you, K., for your note. We have the best readers in America. It’s so nice to have polite, thoughtful questions from our readers.

K., you are right. We don’t have an income tax. How did those rascals in Tallahassee manage to transfer a disproportionate tax burden to the working class and poor?

Let’s agree for a moment that Florida is a state that provides almost all the same basic services as every other state. Is there some service in Michigan or Ohio or New York that Florida doesn’t provide?

No, Florida provides the similar services as states with an income tax. How does Florida provide those services without an income tax?

Quite simply, our clever state legislature passes state laws that require counties and cities to pay for items that would have been paid at the state level if we had an income tax. Here’s one example – but there are many.

The state government of Florida spent 26 percent of its budget on education while the state of Georgia spent 52 percent of the state budget on education. How does the state government of Florida get away with spending so little on education?

Our legislature requires the local school boards to raise property taxes to make up the difference between what the state government of Florida allocates to education and what the state government of Georgia allocates to education. This way, voters can get mad at local school boards instead of their state representative or governor.

Local government funding is heavily reliant on sales tax, gas tax, property tax and fees. As a percentage of income, lower-income and middle-income families spend more money on sales tax, gas tax, property tax and fees than upper income families do.

Because moderate income families spend more of their income on these localized taxes, that’s how “The bottom 20 percent, those making less than $18,700 a year, pay 12.7 percent of their income in state and local taxes. The top 1 percent of income earners in Florida pay only 2.3 percent of their income in state and local taxes.”

K. added in her note to me, “I believe the courts will work with anyone as long as the person holds up their agreement.” K., we all would want to think so.

Florida statute asks our judges to consider income in assessing fines and fees and repayment.

Judges simply quite often ignore this part of Florida’s law. There is no upside for a judge to give lower income people lighter penalties or a lower repayment schedule. Only potential criticism of the judge for being soft on crime.

This is not a bleeding-heart liberal issue. Even the most hard-nosed conservatives like the Koch brothers agree Florida’s system is broken and needs to be fixed. Thanks, K., for asking good questions.

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