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Time to consider a county sales tax hike

Also, any dollar raised as a tax on consumption - which is primarily a matter of personal choice - reduces a mandated, unavoidable property tax which is not a matter of personal choice.

Also, opponents argue that sales tax encourages government spending by simply giving bureaucrats more money to waste. However, the Warren County proposal, as now envisioned, would dedicate this new revenue solely to lowering the property tax burden, and not toward new expenditures.

Opponents of boosted sales taxes also say that taxes would discourage tourism, but this is likely not true. Remember how some citizens claimed the 3 percent bed tax now charged at hotels and motels would repel visitors? Since the bed tax has been imposed, we've enjoyed of best-ever seasons for tourism.

Citizens wary of a sales tax increase should examine the figures calculated by Lake Luzerne Supervisor Gene Merlino. He's estimated that a 1 percent sales tax offers a net gain by most county taxpayers of $280 per year. At that rate, a citizen would have to spend $28,000 for taxable goods and services to break even.

Let's take this "consumption tax" a little further. How about applying it on a national level?

The national FairTax proposal introduced in Congress during 2007 would offer substantial relief from a variety of federal taxes if it were imposed.

This consumption tax, while offering exemptions for people of modest income, would replace the federal income tax, capital gains tax, Social Security tax, Medicare tax, corporate taxes, estate taxes, self-employment tax, and Alternative Minimum tax with a simple consumption tax collected at point of sale.

Withholding taxes would also be eliminated, and the IRS could be abolished. There would be no need for tax accountants, record-keeping, audits, and tax loopholes.

It would also relieve us from handing 20 to 35 percent of our paychecks over to the government. Not only would it allow people to retain the money they earn, but it would make our entire economy more efficient and simplify our lives.

Back to the Warren County proposition.

A special meeting is set for 9 a.m. Friday to consider boosting the county sales tax.

The county supervisors are under a deadline to vote to request a Home Rule measure from the state to allow a sales tax increase by 2010.

A Yes vote on Friday doesn't necessarily commit the county to increasing the sales tax, it only keeps the option open for 2010. Let's hope the supervisors make that choice.

Thom Randall is the editor of Adirondack Journal.

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