A taxing note from the mailbox

Saturday’s mail included this anonymous letter,  postmarked, of all places given the content, Phoenix (I tried to approximate the formatting):

Mr. Prestegard

If that land on Douglas St is such a good buy & such a great deal maybe you should buy it and give it to the school. You know a little tax here & a little tax there adds up to a lot of $tax$ money$$

I assume by this letter that the letter-writer is opposed to my blog about the April 3 Ripon Area School District land purchase referendum. The letter-writer appears to have not read at least one sentence from that blog …

I don’t know if the South Douglas site is the best possible site, or the best possible site for the money, for a future middle or high school (preferably the latter).

… but it’s nice to see people reading the blog, whether they agree or not, and whether they completely read it or not. If I win Tuesday’s Mega Millions jackpot ($356 million over 26 years, or $255 million cash), I’ll consider my anonymous correspondent’s suggestion. (Prestegard High School? Hmmm …)

The letter-writer makes a point that I suspect resonates with a lot of taxpayers, including those who will vote on the referendum. The school district is not responsible for federal or state taxation, yet the referendum may fail based on federal or state taxes more than the $4 impact (on the property tax bill of a house assessed at $100,000) of purchasing the property for future school construction.

The Obama administration (which defines “millionaire” as a household with $250,000 of annual income) has raised 21 separate taxes since it began in 2009. Anyone who buys a product or service from an American business is paying, as of next week, the highest corporate tax rates in the world. If Obama is reelected in November, the George W. Bush tax cuts and the payroll tax cut go away; both expire at the end of this year, resulting in a 13 percent increase in the highest tax bracket. Obama’s 2013 budget raises taxes on 27 percent of American households.

The state’s 2011–13 budget fixed the fiscal mess left by the Doyle administration and its apparatchiks in the Legislature, but it did not cut taxes. That means Wisconsinites still pay some of the highest income taxes in the country. Anyone who buys a product or service from a Wisconsin business is paying some of the highest corporate income taxes in the country. Instead of increasing spending (contrary to the claims of the commercials you’re sentenced to watch), Walker and the Legislature should have actually cut taxes by cutting spending.

If Walker loses his recall election, and if the public employee collective bargaining reforms are reversed, with the obvious resulting further increase in taxes, not a single school district referendum, either to exceed state revenue caps or to build or renovate school buildings, will pass anywhere in this state until the gubernatorial recall winner is himself or herself booted out of office. A Walker recall loss will result in the biggest backlash against government spending and taxes this state has ever seen — a backlash that will make the tea party look like something my daughter’s first-grade class put together.

Since our elected officials don’t listen to us, we have almost no power over federal taxation, and not much more over state taxation. Wisconsinites do have power over raising property taxes for school projects. Regardless of the merits of a school building project, or even in Ripon’s case buying land for a future project, school referenda usually pass or fail based on perceived affordability, and not always the perceived affordability of the school project.

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