Jealous sales tax plan requires more scrutiny

In its editorial about changes to the sales tax rate (“Yes, you heard that right: Ben Jealous wants to cut the sales tax, and Larry Hogan objects,” Sept. 6), The Baltimore Sun forgets that the Democratically-controlled legislature has over the years repeatedly refused to support most benefits to state taxpayers when they are proposed by a Republican governor. Anyone remember Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. proposing legalized slot machines during his term and its approval when Martin O’Malley was elected? Does anyone recall the criticism by the Democrats when Governor Hogan began reducing taxes he could control such as tolls? Benefits to taxpayers won’t get approved if a semblance of credit would go to a Republican governor.

Like the true doublespeak of the legislature, the editorial criticizes the governor for not seeking tax reductions that he knows won’t get the light of day, then it gives a way that the “tax rate” can be reduced as Mr. Jealous has suddenly proposed — by taxing services. Taxpayers should see this as it is. If more goods and services are taxed at a lower rate but it results in more taxes paid, how can that possibly be a sales tax reduction?

Finally, The Sun regrets that the Maryland sales tax hits low- and middle-income taxpayers more than the wealthy, then quickly shifts away from that ignored problem and recommends its overhaul for the information age economy that began at least a decade ago. The editorial writers attempt humor noting the electorate resisted successfully Governor O’Malley’s attempts to expand the sales tax to certain services.

Taxpayers should read carefully The Sun’s attempt to not criticize Mr. Jealous for proposing a sales tax rate decrease by switching to a discussion of expanding the tax’s application in a way that would only mean an additional burden to low- and middle-income families. It is this problem that the editorial board should be taking Mr. Jealous to task for rather than criticizing Mr. Hogan.

Charles Herr, Baltimore

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