KQV AM 1410

KQV Editorial

Politicians’ Ever-Present Search for New Taxes!

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     There are two observations about taxes that merit our attention.  A prominent judge once said that taxes are the price we pay for civilization…which always bought the response, “can we afford to be any more civilized?”

     Then there’s that well worn statement about politicians that there never was a tax that they didn’t like…there certainly is some truth in that!

     Taxes come to us from all directions – federal, state, county, and municipality.  A survey taken recently confirmed that – if you live in the city of Pittsburgh – you pay 24 different taxes!  Some are direct – like income and property taxes while others are hidden – like gasoline and alcohol taxes.  Politicians like to levy all taxes, particularly the hidden ones that sneak up on us.

     It goes without saying that we do need taxes to pay the cost of keeping government running.  What bothers us most is the way in which politicians handle the taxes that they receive and how they abuse the privilege of spending taxes fairly and sensibly.  We are all aware of the terrible waste in government spending whether national, statewide or local.

     In Pittsburgh we’ve been dealing with serious financial problems for some time.  Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, stating that there is a $16 million shortfall in our upcoming budget, has come up with several proposals to deal with the gap.

     One of the most controversial is the proposed tuition tax on college, university, and trade school students.  Previously, we went on record in opposing that tax as unfair and shortsighted.  One area which has been politicians fair game is the nonprofit institutions and how to seek support from them.

     A study revealed that more than 40% of the property in Pittsburgh is tax-exempt…owned by colleges, universities, hospitals, service organizations, churches and other non-profits.  That’s a serious percentage to be on the tax-free roles.

     A renewed proposal introduced in the general assembly would tax property owned by large non-profit organizations.  A similar bill died last year in a senate committee.

     Non-profits have paid a voluntary fee, but, according to political leaders, it is not commensurate with services provided.  Meanwhile, non-profits point out that there is a strong reason why they are tax free since they provide important, non-profit services to the city.  Where would we be without the vital service contributions of these organizations?

     It seem to us that there is a middle ground where the non-profits would pay a more realistic voluntary fee.  Introducing another tax, as advocated by some of our political leaders, is questionable to our way of thinking.

     We much prefer non-profits’ voluntary contributions rather than the mayor’s heavy-handed threats!


Robert W. Dickey


KQV Newsradio
December 11, 12, 13, 2009                                   

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