Tax the rich revisited

Lawmakers must find ways to bring the state money.

by Editorial board

As Minnesota lawmakers continue to look at ways to close the stateâÄôs gaping $5 billion budget deficit, a sobering study by the Minnesota Department of Revenue has intensified the dispute over taxes.

The results of the statewide study revealed 90 percent of Minnesotans had to cough up an average of 12.3 percent of their income to state and local taxes in 2008 while the other 10 percent earned more than $130,000 and paid an average of just 10.3 percent. Obviously, thereâÄôs an unacceptable level of unfairness going on here.

Affluent Minnesotans can and should shell out a higher percentage of their incomes in taxes. Not an obscene amount, but enough to take the burden off those who need it.

Republicans claim the best way to remedy the situation is not raising taxes on the top 10 percent, but just lowering them for the other 90. If only it were that simple. The release of this study comes on the heels of severe proposed cuts Republicans in the Legislature made to local government aid. Drastic cuts in funding have a way of trickling down and ultimately having adverse effects on taxpayersâÄô wallets. Minnesota House analysts estimate the effects of making these cuts would mean a $391 million hike in property taxes, averaging about 5 percent statewide.

The unjust nature of an all-cuts approach is becoming increasingly evident. The RepublicansâÄô tax plans are fiscally irresponsible and place too high a burden on low-earning Minnesotans. WhatâÄôs needed now is a tax system based on fairness and MinnesotaâÄôs economic reality.