Does Bozeman Need a Local Option Sales Tax?
Every so often sales taxes are added to the yearly ballot and every time they are rejected by the voters.
But that doesn’t stop those that are hungry for what they think are your disposable dollars. Those of you living paycheck-to-paycheck know what I mean.
Having lived in various parts of the beautiful USA I have some experience with sales tax. One hard and fast rule about sales tax is — once implemented they always go up — never down.
Once we let the camel’s nose into the tent it’s not much longer until we’re feeding the whole camel and then some.
Sales Tax — A Tax On The Poor
This is a common debate tool used when sales taxes are proposed. The poor are saddled with an additional expense they don’t need.
I realize that some items that are necessary for minimum existence would not be taxed. Things like food, medicine, children’s clothes.
But why should the poor be shut out of some of the simple pleasures of life? Why not a decent cable TV which would be taxed, or a computer which would be taxed, washer and dryer that would be taxed?
Are we expecting the poor to live like monks? Three square a day of water, curds and whey? Library books the sole source of entertainment?
Lower Property Taxes — Really?
Lower Property taxes is the carrot on the stick to entice voters to give up more of their hard-earned incomes.
There are claims that property taxes could be reduced by 37 percent.
I wouldn’t look for that windfall to be passed on to renters any time soon because rents are more closely tied to housing costs not taxes.
But haven’t we already learned about free money from the lottery? Wasn’t the lottery money supposed to reduce property taxes also since the money went to schools?
I think we all know how that turned out.
The school money was siphoned off and moved to some other vote buying, feel good program.
Some Final Thoughts
A local option sales tax will not stop tourism to Bozeman or Montana. I know from personal experience that a sales tax will not stop anyone from visiting Sea World, Disneyland, Las Vegas or Six Flags.
There are four states with no sales tax: Delaware, Montana, Oregon, and New Hampshire. A fifth, Alaska, has no state-level sales tax but allows municipalities to impose the retail-level tax. As a result, the average sales tax rate in Alaska is 1.69%.
If you want a tax that never ends, then this is the tax for you. Yes, the feel-good side is that out of towners pay their fair share of using our city, but many aren’t here year-round.
I vote for a more responsible city commission to curtail spending on frivolous things and get serious about moving Bozeman forward.