Regressive local taxes carry long-term risks

A Daily Mail editorial from the Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — People who work in Charleston might be grumbling about upcoming increases in the city’s user fee, but their neighbors in Huntington will soon see an even bigger hike.

Huntington’s weekly user fee is set to rise significantly, from $3 to $5.

That’s nudging into worrisome territory. All forms of taxation have trade-offs, but the user fee is particularly problematic.

Most obviously, user fees tax many people who work in cities but don’t live there. That means they don’t get to vote for the politicians raising their taxes, which is great for the politicians but terrible for political accountability.

It’s also a regressive tax, meaning it hits poor people harder than wealthy ones. Five dollars a week out of a doctor’s salary won’t make much of a dent, but for low-wage workers it’s a noticeable chunk out of what they take home.

 And if $5 a week still doesn’t sound like much, consider that it amounts to $260 a year…

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