To The Daily Sun,
Recently, Jeb Bradley, comparing taxes in New Hampshire and Vermont, painted a rosy picture of our “low” taxes and a dismal one of Vermont’s “high tax woes.” But having fewer or lower taxes does not necessarily equate to fairer taxes.
Graduated-rate personal income taxes are much fairer than real estate and sales taxes, which are regressive and place a much greater tax burden on the poor and middle class. Such is true of New Hampshire, which relies almost exclusively on real estate taxes to pay for schools and vital services. Vermont, which has a personal income tax, has been rated as having the 6th least regressive tax structure among the states while New Hampshire is only 27th. Vermont scored third for having more equal rates between low and high-income taxpayers. We scored 44th!
Regressive taxes increase income inequality, a growing problem everywhere. New Hampshire now has the fastest growing income inequality in the U.S. We also have the highest median income ($76,260). But the median incomes of our towns vary greatly. Compare the highest (Bedford at $123,423) and lowest (Clarksville at $27,917). This inequality is reflected in our real estate tax rates. Wealthy towns tend to have the lowest. An extreme example: New Castle has a rate of $5.85, while Berlin pays $39.19! This is outrageous and unsustainable!
A comparison between our towns of Alton and Barnstead is enlightening. The towns have an almost identical median income ($66,000+) but property-rich Alton pays a rate of $12.86, while Barnstead residents pay more than twice that ($28.90) to ensure a quality education for their children.
It is time to renounce our hackneyed and outdated "pledge." New Hampshire needs fair taxes!
- Written by Edward Engler
- Category: Letters
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