We may argue over what “progressive” means in a political sense, but I feel certain that eliminating regressive taxes like the sales tax on food is a progressive idea. State Representative John Knight (D, Montgomery) is proposing legislation (HB555) which would eliminate the sales tax on food, expand the standard tax deduction to $10,700 for couples (and index it to inflation) and expand the dependent tax deduction. He proposes paying for this (yes, the state would lose revenue, $300,000,000 just from eliminating sales tax on food) by also eliminating the state tax deduction for federal income tax paid. That is a tax break that primarily benefits higher income residents: the wealthiest 20% of taxpayers get 80% of the total revenue lost to this loophole. The Arise Citizen’s Policy Project has an excellent summary of this bill.
HB555 is “pending action” in the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Gov. Riley has proposed a different tax reform plan that does not go nearly as far as Knight’s. Based on the reading I have done, `experts’ don’t seem to think there is a very good chance that either proposal will make it through the Legislature this year. Wouldn’t it be nice if they were wrong? So the next time you talk to your State Representative or Senator (maybe to discuss their vote on Constitutional Reform?) why not put in a good work for HB555 at the same time. It will distribute the tax burden more fairly on citizens who are doing well and can afford it (I think that means people for whom government is working well) instead of those who are just getting by or hanging on by a thread.
You might also want to drop a line of encouragement to Rep. Knight who has worked for years to reform Alabama’s tax structure.
These are the members of the Education Appropriations Subcommittee: Richard Lindsey, Chair; John Rogers, Vice Chair; Mac Gipson, Ranking Minority Member; Robert Bentley, Alan Boothe, James Buskey, Betty Carol Graham, Todd Greeson, Yvonne Kennedy, Mary Sue McClurkin, Jeff McLaughlin, Jeremy Oden, Sue Schmitz, Terry Spicer, James Thomas