Weather Forecast


Letter: Paying a fair share of taxes

This is a quiz. In what American state do the 836 families with the highest income, those with annual income of more than $3 million, pay a total state and local tax rate of 9.7 percent of their income, while the more than one million households with annual income of $32,000 and less pay a rate of 13.8 percent of their income?

You might guess Florida, Texas or South Dakota, but you would be wrong. The correct answer is Minnesota.

The average combined state and local tax rate in Minnesota is 11.5 percent, while those with the top 1 percent of income pay taxes at the rate of 9.7 percent. The wealthiest Minnesotans really do pay a lower tax rate than the rest of us. The source of these numbers is the Minnesota Department of Revenue, based on a study of 2008 state and local tax revenue.

Gov. Dayton has proposed that Minnesotans with the highest 2 percent of incomes should have a tax increase so that they pay taxes at a rate closer to what other Minnesotans pay.

What a radical idea! I would hope that most Minnesotans would agree that those who have gained the most from living in Minnesota would pay a tax rate at least equal to that paid by average Minnesotans.

Of course, Republican legislators and Tea Party types don't agree with this kind of fairness. They argue that children, older people and the poor will just have to bite the bullet, rather than require the wealthiest 2 percent to pay a fairer share.

In fact, they are willing to shut Minnesota down rather than ask the wealthy to pay their share. They argue that low taxes on the wealthy are the key to economic development.

If that were true, the high-technology knowledge-based jobs of the future would be located in such low-tax states as Mississippi, Alabama or South Dakota, rather than in the higher-tax states of California, Massachusetts and Minnesota.

Now that the Legislature has adjourned, having accomplished virtually nothing, you might want to discuss these matters with Republican Sen. Joe Gimse and Rep. Bruce Vogel.

John Burns