Opinion

I-1098 just a sneaky way to impose an income tax

Longtime Louisiana Sen. Russell Long, asked many years ago to define the essence of tax reform, famously replied, “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me. Tax that fella behind the tree.”

Having died in 2003, we assume Long had no direct role in crafting Initiative 1098. But whoever did obviously shared his whimsical approach to budget management.

I-1098, being championed by Bill Gates Sr., would impose an income tax on so-called “high earners” — individuals making more than $200,000 a year or couples making more than $400,000.

This would ostensibly provide the state with some $2 billion a year, or so its advocates claim.

But it would only do so if the measure proves to be constitutional. And since the state Supreme Court in 1933 ruled against the imposition of a graduated income tax — which this unquestionably is — the odds aren’t in its favor.

Then, too, there’s the provision in the bill that would allow the Legislature, after just two years, to impose a statewide income tax by a simple majority vote.

So much for just taxing the rich.

But even without that clause, the initiative would be little more than a pointless, counterproductive exercise in class warfare.

On paper, it’s easy to propose a tax increase of a certain percentage and project how much revenue it will generate. But rich people didn’t get that way by letting their income be gobbled up by taxes that can be avoided by moving their assets out of state or offshore. And that’s precisely what they’ll do.

Instead of raising revenue, I-1098 would cost the state money and jobs because it would encourage the most productive among us to flee the state for less confiscatory locales, taking with them assets that could have been invested here.

I-1098 isn’t economic policy. It’s a disingenuous, backdoor effort to impose a state income tax by appealing to your envy and resentment of the very people who sign your paycheck.

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