Letters to the Editor

Income tax is ‘economic suicide’

In the Oct. 9 issue Mr. Bruner states that the “first tax in history was an income tax.” This is very doubtful. Most early taxes were taxes on goods, essentially sales taxes, and on land. For example, in the time of the Egyptian pharaohs the first tax was on cooking oil. The earliest taxes in Rome were customs duties on exports and imports. The first American taxes were also excise duties.

However, citing history and scripture is beside the point. In the Oct. 5 issue of the Wall Street Journal Arthur Laffer presents concrete data on the economic effect on the 11 states that adopted state income taxes in the past 50 years. Every state that introduced an income tax saw its share of total U.S. output decline. It is quite striking how high tax states have underperformed relative to the states with no income tax.

Washington’s I-1098 proposes a state income tax with a maximum rate higher than any of those initially adopted by the other 11 states. Washington would move from being one of the lowest-taxed states in the nation to being one of the top nine highest. It would amount to economic suicide.

The proponents of I-1098 like to point out that the tax would be on the wealthiest, omitting to point out that after two years it can be extended to all incomes with a simple majority vote of the legislature — as has been done in other states. Vote no on I-1098.

Thomas D. Smith

Oak Harbor

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