As we hear constantly from our political leaders, Alabama has one of the lightest tax burdens in the nation and that’s considered to be a good thing by most folks. The U.S. Census Bureau released a report recently showing that individuals and businesses in Alabama paid fewer taxes in the 2007 fiscal year than residents and companies in any other state. Adjusted for incomes, Alabama had the third-lowest tax burden in the nation. While this is good news, it doesn’t tell the whole story. The reality is that we have a tax structure that is regressive and totally unfair to middle and low-income citizens. It especially hits the latter group extremely hard.
The national study of state tax systems shows Alabama takes a larger share of low-income families’ meager earnings than any other state. Alabama has a history of confiscating the money of people who can least afford to pay for state services. The poor and the near-poor have been victims of an inequitable tax structure in our state for many years. I believe it’s past time for a reform of our state’s tax structure to take place.
While the special interest groups may disagree, I believe we have a moral duty to reform our entire tax structure in Alabama. The current system favors the rich and powerful and penalizes those Alabama citizens in the middle and low-income categories. Those at the bottom are hit the hardest because of our emphasis on the sales tax as a main source of revenue. In fact, Alabama’s tax structure rests largely on the sales tax. Obviously, poor families are hit harder by the sales tax than wealthy and middle-class families.
We have an income tax in Alabama that kicks in well below the poverty level and a regressive sales tax that is levied even on food. Alabama’s upside-down tax structure hampers the economic advancement of the poor. It also badly hurts education and other vital services and that will likely get worse next year. The system needs to be dismantled and rebuilt on a balanced foundation that draws more revenue from property taxes. Alabama has kept property taxes at a ridiculously low level for more than a century. Don’t you believe it’s time in Alabama to change our ways?
Source: Associated Press, Mobile Press Register and Alabama Arise
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