Sunday, February 01, 2015

Tax Burden -- Letter to Editor Unpublished

Dear Dispatch:

It is important for readers to keep in mind that the state's local tax-effort index is more political than factual (”Affluent districts pay less in school taxes by this count”).

The original index – developed by the Ohio Department of Taxation – was simple: divide the amount of district local revenue by the total amount of income earned by its residents. So, if on average, residents paid 2% of their income in local school taxes, the index for the district was 2.

If another district had an index of 4, it was obvious its residents paid twice the percentage of their income to their local schools. This allowed for objective comparisons between districts.

That all changed during the Strickland administration. The Ohio Department of Education took the index and made it political. Once the revised formula is resolved to its mathematical equation, it becomes apparent that the local tax-effort index is now heavily weighted against wealthier districts.

If a district's medium income is twice that of another district, the residents in the first district are expected to pay an amount equal to four times the amount paid by the second district. This is due to the squaring effect of the new formula.

You can apply the calculation to individual taxpayers, as well. Based on the formula, if one taxpayer makes (say) five times that of another, the first taxpayer is expected to pay an amount equal to 25 times that of the second. So, should the second taxpayer be paying $2,000 to his local district, the first taxpayer is expected to pay $50,0000 of his income to his. 

Talk about a subjective index. And talk about the politics of redistribution gone mad. 

The economist and Nobel laureate, Ronald Coase, is quoted as saying, "If you torture data long enough, it will confess." 

The Department of Education certainly tortured its data long enough to confessed to its political agenda.

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