State Income Tax

Oct 04 2019
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We had a great time on September 12 in Boerne, at GoRed 19.  We celebrated the centennial of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, which gave women the right to vote.  Interesting speakers, compelling narratives, and funny stories.  We imagined what it was like, 100 years ago in America.

Well, one epochal event happened just 6 years before the 19th Amendment was ratified.  That was ratification of the 16th Amendment, which provided for a federal income tax.  Yes, for the first 140 years of American independence, there was no federal income tax.  But that changed in 1913, and we have been paying income taxes ever since.

The first federal income tax was aimed only at “rich” people.  Sound familiar?  To be precise, the first income tax was 1% for all income above $3,000 ($76,000 today).  And those fortunate souls who were really rich paid 6% tax on income above $500,000 ($13 million today).

Now, a century of experience has shown us that taxes always increase.  A sad, bitter truth.  In fact, a Democrat president, FDR, proposed 100% taxation on income over $25,000 ($376,000 today) in 1942!  But he couldn’t pass it through Congress, not even a Democrat Congress. 

As all you taxpayers know, our income taxes are far greater than that 1% or even 6% from a hundred years ago.  Certainly, income taxes are no longer paid only by rich people.

And the drumbeat continues to this day.  Liberal Democrat politicians, proposing ways to spend other people’s money.  More and more clever schemes to separate American citizens from the money they have earned.  More taxes, more spending, more giveaways.

Which brings me to our great state of Texas.  Texas is one of only 7 states which have no state income tax.  And it is not a coincidence that Texas has a powerful economy, with a thousand people moving here every day.  We have never had a state income tax in our entire history.

But some would like to change that.  There seem to always be those who want to be generous with your money, not their own.

Our Texas Constitution has a process for amending.  In fact, it has been amended 498 times since it was adopted in 1876.  The legislature passes a “proposition” by a necessary two thirds vote, which is then placed before the voters to decide.  The people vote directly, and have the final say.

Back in 1993, a Texas constitutional amendment was put before the voters.  It prohibited the state from levying a personal income tax without voter approval.  It provided that the state legislature could refer a voter referendum for an income tax through a simple majority vote in each chamber, the House and the Senate.  It was approved by 69% of Texas voters, an overwhelming margin.

This November we will have another proposition to consider, Proposition 4.  It came to us from the 2019 legislature.  It was authored by 4 Republican members of the Texas House:  Jeff Leach, Will Metcalf, Dustin Burrows, and Briscoe Cain.  Proposition 4 would require a two thirds majority vote in each chamber, plus a majority vote by the public to institute a state income tax.  That is, any future state income tax would require an amendment to the Texas Constitution.

In the House chamber, 100 votes are needed to pass a proposition.  Exactly 100 votes approved it on May 9, no thanks to Democrats, who voted heavily against it.

In the Senate chamber, 21 votes are needed.  With 22 votes in favor on May 20, the proposition was approved.  All 19 Senate Republicans voted in favor, while a strong majority of Democrats voted against.

Of course, Texas Republicans are strongly in favor of Proposition 4.  We are the party of lower taxes, smaller government, freedom and opportunity for every Texan.  Voting Yes on this proposition will make it even more difficult for future governments to raise our taxes.

Vote Yes on Proposition 4, to prevent a state income tax in Texas.

Scott S. Kramer is Chairman of the Republican Party of Kendall County.