State & Local Taxation

State & Local Taxation

LWVSC supports a system of taxation that is equitable and ensures adequate revenue through:

1.  Comprehensive tax reform rather than piecemeal changes in the tax system, based on a review undertaken by a commission or other body that is broadly representative, has access to adequate support staff or technical resources, and that makes clear and ample provision for public input.

2.  Shared responsibility for financing education between state and local resources so as to ensure access to quality education for all students while maintaining a significant local role in supporting and managing the public schools.

3.  Providing additional options for financing local government bodies.

4.  Continued state oversight of local property tax assessment to ensure that assessment is done by qualified assessors and that reassessment is undertaken frequently enough to ensure equitable distribution of the property tax burden among property owners.

5.  Making the sales tax less regressive.

6.  Ensuring that any expanded property tax relief should be state-funded and directed primarily to low-income households through means testing.

7.  Revising the present regulations and practices governing use-value (rather than market value) classification for farm and forest property in order to balance the desire for green space and to protect lower income households with the need to prevent abuse and excessive revenue loss.

8.  Monitoring the use of property tax incentives for industry to balance the benefits, the costs, and the risks associated with these business location packages. Citizens value industrial development that brings jobs, tax revenue and other benefits. However, they are concerned that development also creates costs to existing residents and firms, service demands on local governments, pressures on infrastructure, congestion and sometimes environmental damage. County councils should continue to play a lead role in economic development in collaboration with other interested parties, including school boards, municipalities, county economic development boards and the State Department of Commerce. Future contracts should include provisions for repaying some of the benefits received if the firm does not honor its commitment in terms of capital investment and job creation.

Background/Action:

The state and local taxation position was crafted from positions under constitutional revision, education, and local government at the 1995 convention. Two successive conventions authorized a study and consensus process, which took place in 1999- 2001 and 2001-03 on sales tax issues, business tax incentives, and property tax issues and was approved at the 2003 convention. The position on initiative and referendum as a method of revising the Constitution was deleted at the 2005 convention. A review of the Structure of State Government section of the STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT was approved at Convention 2009. Item #4 under EFFECTIVE LOCAL GOVERNMENT is a result of consensus based on a state LWV study of school district structure and governance and was adopted at convention in 2011.