Tax Day Tea Parties don’t speak to facts

Too much hoopla is being made of the “Tax Day Tea Parties” on April 15. It’s a classic example of “playing to the crowd,” without thinking enough.

If you dig a little, you find California has among the lowest property tax rates in the nation. One study is here.

The same goes for our county, where the majority of people have lived in their home for many years. Their property taxes are based on much lower valuations, even with the recent housing crisis. It’s one of the rare economic “upsides” of a stagnant, older population such as ours, at least for them.

As for income tax, that’s less of a deal up here as well: Our family always has received refunds every year we’ve worked up here — in contrast to the taxes we paid from our higher wages when we worked in the city.

But that’s not all. How many people do you think are going to be paying capital gains taxes this year, thanks to the plummeting stock market? Not many. Their stock portfolios and 401K’s are in the dumper.

In short, we will have a tax *shortfall* or at least declining receipts this year in Nevada City, Grass Valley, our county, the state and the rest of the nation. And we will for years to come: This year’s unemployment rate — 10 percent in our county alone — also will dampen next year’s tax receipts.

I’ve always been a proponent of “small government.” But we ought to be more worried about funding roads, sewers, schools, public safety, mental health and child development this year — you know, the basics — rather than taking a bus ride to Sacramento to protest taxes.

Save yourself the gas tax money and spend more time pondering the real issue: The working class families in our community — who on average still earn less than a supposedly underpaid county supervisor — are more dependent on government/social programs than in many other places.

That’s the unfortunate downside of an economy dependent largely on wealthy retirees and tourists — the “crowd” or target audience as it were. It’s only one part of the picture, however.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

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