Letter to the Editor

Missourians need opportunity to vote on taxes

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

To the editor:

Recent statements by some of our legislative leaders indicate they must think Missouri voters aren't smart enough to know when a tax proposal is regressive and unfair.

Because the sales and gas taxes were overwhelmingly defeated last August and the large excise tax on cigarettes lost at the polls in November, Missourians are being classified as anti-tax. We're told that the voters won't approve any tax increase.

All of the taxes offered last year for voters' approval were exceedingly regressive. The voters recognized that. Increasingly, voters are recognizing that Missouri's tax system places a much higher tax burden on low- and middle-income taxpayers than on wealthy Missourians.

A just-released analysis of our state tax system by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy confirms this.

When all Missouri taxes are totaled up, the study found that the tax rate on middle-income families is three-quarters more than the effective rates the richest families pay. With the families on the lowest end of the income scale, the effective tax rate is nearly double that of the wealthiest Missourians.

With our state facing huge budget deficits and the prospect of dangerous cuts in human services, we need tax changes to produce more fairness and more adequate revenue. Missouri voters should be offered an opportunity to approve a tax proposal to accomplish this.

PAT MARTIN

Chair

Missourians for Tax Justice

St. Louis