Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tax Balance at the State Level

All states in the United States levy taxes to raise revenue.  Most states use a combination of income, sales, corporate and property tax to generate most of their revenue.  According to the Minnesota Management & Budget Office, the 2014-2015 biennium budget for Minnesota will raise an estimated 35.168 billion dollars.

$33.778 billion, or over 96 percent of the total revenue, will come from taxes.  The state estimates $17.436 billion (52%) will come from personal income tax, $1.954 billion (6%) from corporate tax, $10.123 billion (30%) from sales tax, and $1.676 billion (5%) from property tax.  These numbers tell us the state is most dependent on individual income and sales tax for its revenue.

Compared nationally to the other 50 states, Minnesota ranks relatively high in per capita rates: 9th highest in income tax, 7th highest in sales tax, and 6th highest in corporate tax.

Minnesota's ranking is lower for property tax, coming in at 19th.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton recently outlined his new tax proposals.  In his proposal, the governor seeks an additional $2.139 billion in tax revenues.

The increase in revenue would come almost entirely from a $2.083 billion sales tax increase and a $1.098 billion income tax increase for earners in the top two percent.  The plan also comes with a $1.439 billion rebate for property tax payers.

Last week in class, professor Zhao discussed the benefits of revenue authorities where the federal government relies on income tax, state governments on sales tax, and local governments on property tax.  By using this model it is hard for individuals or businesses to change their behavior to avoid taxes.  This system also makes sense from a services used perspective.  Local governments provide services to their property owners so it makes sense for them to generate revenue through property taxes.  The federal government is in charge of interstate and global commerce so it makes sense they receive their revenue through mostly income taxes.

Minnesota current budget does not do a good job of adhering to the revenue authorities model.  As stated earlier Minnesota only get 30% of its tax revenue through sales tax and gets a larger percent from the income tax.

Governor Dayton has expressed many goals for his new budget: “tax the rich”, “property tax relief” and “long-term fairness.”

Something that he hasn’t discussed is changing Minnesota’s tax model to one that more closely resembles the three part revenue authorities.  Whether Dayton discusses this system or not, his budget proposal moves Minnesota in this direction.  Income tax rates won’t change for 98% of Minnesotans and a rebate from property taxes and increased sales tax are good steps for Minnesota to take to get to have a more balanced revenue authority system.

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