Saturday, April 17, 2004

More on the Car Tax

Ben Domenech is appalled at the latest talk about the car tax.

I can't say that I've quite got my mind around what was involved with the elimination of the car tax - my impression these days is that it involved elimination of a local tax on personal property that is reimbursed to the localities by the Commonwealth, with the result that the places with the most affected property get most of the money. So, now the Commonwealth has to raise more money (according to some) to pay for this subsidy to the localities, while not fully funding other obligations to localities (education), causing localities to raise real property taxes (in some places). Is that the way it works? Heck, back in 1997 or whenever it was, "no car tax" sounded like free lunch to me, who could oppose it, but now I'm still driving the car I had then, so the difference to my bank balance wouldn't buy me lunch today. I don't take the election of Gilmore as conclusive evidence that the elimination of the car tax, in retrospect, was fiscally wise (though it was certainly good politics, besides which I'm a Gilmore fan for other reasons). It seems like the distribution of funds from the Commonwealth to localities ought to be on some sounder basis than which places have the most expensive cars.

I was told by a local lawyer long ago when I was trying to rationalize the language of a settlement agreement that I was making the mistake of trying to get the settlement to make sense, when he was trying to get it approved by his client. Maybe budget-making is something like that.

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