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Archive for Consumption Tax

Shifting Tax Base To Consumption Tax Is Bad Idea

ANNETTE NELLEN

In January 2020, a Nebraska legislator introduced LR300CA, to amend the state constitution to prohibit all forms of taxation other than a consumption tax. The proposal states that the tax is to be at a single-digit rate. Presumably, both the state and local governments could have a single-rate tax. It would apply to all new goods and services, but does not define this term. It sounds like it means tangible personal property and services, possibly also travel and entertainment, but not clear.

It is unlikely that such as tax can raise as much revenue as an income tax, even with no exemptions to the sales tax. High income taxpayers don’t spend all of their income, they save it and invest it. So that drops the tax base compared to an income tax. Consider these two formulas and you’ll see the base for an income tax is broader.

Income = consumption + savings

Consumption = Income less savings

And, with an income tax it is easier to have a progressive rate structure to increase vertical equity in the system.

One new category that would become taxable and affect higher income individuals more than lower-income is to tax food. Currently, Nebraska doesn’t impose sales tax on food. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top 20% of income earners buy 1/3 of total food purchases. They also buy 41% of all entertainment spending. Hopefully the Nebraska proposal intends to apply sales tax to entertainment.
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