Category: State Issues
April 7, 2017
When dealing with players enamored by short-cuts to success, former Raiders head coach John Madden famously quipped, “the road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.” His team would be wise to keep this quote in mind as they finance their much-discussed move to Las Vegas on the backs of taxpayers. While the public may assume that tax revenue goes to priorities such as education, health care, and aid to the indigent, governments frequently add billionaire sports executives to the trough. In this case, Nevada agreed to shell out $750 million in tax-exempt municipal bonds for the construction of a new stadium in Las Vegas to lure the Oakland Raiders away from their hometown. While Oakland fans may be bitter about losing the team they’ve cheered (unsuccessfully) for, Alameda County taxpayers should be thrilled that a terrible deal is finally over. Residents, after all, are still $83 million short on a $350 million bond subsidy awarded to the team in 1995. County taxpayers have had to foot a $13 million tab each year since 1995, and will continue to do so through 2025, long after the Raiders are gone. These arrangements completely skew governmental priorities by forcing tax-burdened residents to subsidizing well-heeled executives instead of the very neediest.» Read More
March 31, 2017
As March Madness comes to a close, with the Final Four this weekend and National Championship Monday night, it’s important to remember how outdated bans are failing the intended purpose to prevent betting and instead are leading to the perpetuation of a massive underground illegal economy. Here are some of the numbers, according to the American Gaming Association:
- Americans will wager $10.4 billion on March Madness this year, a 13 percent increase over last year
- Out of that $10.4 billion wagered, only about $295 million (3 percent) will be wagered legally through Nevada sports books
- The remaining $10.1 billion will be spent on illegal offshore websites
No sport has taken in more money in a specific month of legal Nevada betting than basketball did in March of 2016. It took in a record $422 Million. March of 2017 is likely to surpass that
- The amount of money illegally wagered in the entire U.S. on just the 2017 Super Bowl was $4.51 Billion, nearly identical to the amount wagered legally in all of Nevada across all sports in all of 2016.
February 23, 2017
This article originally appeared in The Daily Caller on February 13, 2017
President Donald Trump recently designated Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner Ajit Pai to be chairman of the FCC. This choice is an excellent one since Pai was a strong opponent of former Chairman Tom Wheeler’s policy to expand taxpayer-funded municipal broadband networks. Taxpayer-funded municipal broadband networks across the country have failed at an alarming rate. Last year, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released a study highlighting the 12 worst networks. The study outlined how these government networks put taxpayer dollars at risk and explained why local lawmakers should not compete with private sector job creators to provide broadband and fiber service. As a follow up to that report, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance Foundation (TPAF) just launched a new website with a map outlining 215 government internet failures. The website details how much taxpayers in cities from California to Connecticut have lost when their local leaders decided to enter the market for internet and cable. Combined with the “Dirty Dozen” study issued last July, which found that in 12 cities alone local officials wasted $2 trillion in taxpayer revenue, it is clear Pai’s position is the right one.» Read More
February 20, 2017
As states look to ways to contain or fix looming budget shortfalls, there are a number of legislatures around the country that are looking to raise taxes in a number of ways that will only harm consumers and taxpayers, while likely falling short on projected revenue leaving the states in a position where taxpayers will continue to be at risk from lawmakers eager to fill the remaining budget gaps. In Indiana, lawmakers are considering a new sales tax bill that is not only unconstitutional, but will discourage entrepreneurs from doing business in the state of Indiana and will likely result in retaliatory measures from tax-heavy states including nearby neighbor Illinois. TPA signed a letter to Indiana lawmakers sent by the R Street Institute opposing the bill, S.B. 545 and TPA will continue to fight against any attempts to increase taxes in the states and at the federal level.
Click "Read Blog" to see the full letter» Read More
February 15, 2017
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has long advocated that the private sector has the tools to expand wireless deployment throughout the country and now there is strong momentum to meet the needs of millions wireless consumers nationwide, while protecting taxpayers. TPA continues to push for more innovation when it comes to how these new networks are deployed and it is up to government to get out of the way and let the market do what it does best in these instances. TPA is hopeful that state legislatures will begin to put in place uniform rules that will encourage investment and innovation in these new networks. Keeping that in mind, TPA recently sent the following letter to the Virginia General Assembly urging them to pass legislation (SB 1282) that would create a set of standards allowing for 5G development and deployment, which would bring better technology and service to wireless consumers all across the country and spare taxpayers the risk of exposure and increased government bureaucracy.
Click "read blog" to see the letter» Read More
February 7, 2017
WASHINGTON, DC – The Taxpayers Protection Alliance Foundation (TPAF) today unveiled Broadband Boondoggles, a comprehensive collection of information about taxpayer-funded government internet projects. Broadband Boondoggles is an online interactive map displaying information such as cost to taxpayers, debt, revenues, number of customers, and other facts related to more than 200 municipal broadband internet projects across America. The data contained in Broadband Boondoggles indicates publicly funded internet projects are a universal failure. Government broadband networks cost American taxpayers billions of dollars a year while failing to stimulate economic growth, falling short of projected customer and revenue numbers, struggling to keep up with advancements in technology, and using tax dollars to compete against existing private companies, TPAF discovered.» Read More
February 1, 2017
Only ten weeks ago, taxpayers flocked to the ballot boxes to win a respite from the tired tax-and-spend proposals of federal and state politicians. Any celebration seems to be premature, though, as governors of all political stripes unveil expensive budget proposals for the coming year. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) is among the biggest offenders, laying out what the Buffalo News calls a “cornucopia of tax and fee hikes.” Exhibit A of this tax smorgasbord is an audacious attempt to bailout three nuclear power plants. Cuomo’s plan would cause a rate increase for New York electricity ratepayers. Taxpayers will also be on the hook for an increase in electricity costs for public buildings. Another misguided idea is to expand sales taxes on products sold on the internet, regardless of the physical location of the seller. The Governor claims that the expanded tax would increase revenue by more than $200 million in the next two years, but this math fails to take economic incentives into account. Unlike older shoppers beholden to their favorite brick-and-mortar locations, younger web-savvy customers can easily ditch large internet marketplaces (like Etsy) in response to a tax hike. The biggest losers will be fledgling digital entrepreneurs, who sell their products on well-known internet venues to avoid large fixed expenses like rent.» Read More
January 24, 2017
As 2017 gets into gear, state legislators and governors are crafting budgets and struggling to stretch out dwindling tax dollars. While roads, schools, and police departments are typically on the top of spending wish lists, another priority, taxpayer-funded broadband has increasingly turned the heads of lawmakers. Some non-profit and advocacy groups have increasingly pushed for broadband investments over the past ten years, advocating for municipal and state-level network expansions. Given the continued failures of taxpayer-funded networks, state legislators should stay away from spending any tax dollars on these boondoggles.» Read More
January 2, 2017
The New Year has begun, and after saying goodbye to 2016, taxpayers are ready to welcome 2017. While many people resolve to shed a few pounds and break some bad habits, this year’s list of resolutions highlights all of the major issues that the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) will focus on throughout the year.
The resolution for Congress in 2017 is clear: No More Excuses. Washington (including the incoming Trump administration) have no more excuses for not getting things done for taxpayers. On a wide range of issues, including tax reform and regulatory reform, members of the House and Senate can longer make excuses for not doing the necessary work to fix some of the major problems impacting taxpayers. It is time for Congress to get to work. For more on Congress, click here.
Click "Read Blog" below to see all of TPA's 2017 Resolutions!» Read More
December 29, 2016
This article originally appeared in USA Today on December 16, 2016
In the 1990 Oscar nominated film “Field of Dreams,” Kevin Costner’s character hears a promise from above: “If you build it, he will come.” Viewers, and Costner, aren’t sure who “he” is, but it’s one of the most memorable movie lines of all time and is enough to get Costner to level his cornfield and build a ball field. That faith is enchanting in the movies, but in real life can be problematic. KentuckyWired, the Bluegrass State’s government-owned broadband network, is a great example of real life being out of tune with fantasy. Upon taking office, Gov. Matt Bevin seemed to -- wisely -- be pulling back from this project, which is now more than a year behind schedule. Now he has reversed that position and basically told taxpayers in a press conference earlier this year, “If the state builds it, we’ll find a way to pay for it.”» Read More
December 26, 2016
A version of this op-ed was recently published in the Sun Prairie Star
Across the country, public officials are continuously duped into following the siren call of government-owned broadband systems. While it is certainly tempting to score political points with constituents who initially benefit from high-speed internet, these short-term gains are invariably canceled out by long-term costs that bedevil those same constituents. That’s why city officials in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin now have an opportunity to be trendsetters. Instead of pressing ahead with its current broadband initiative, they ought to carefully consider the examples of recent history and reverse course. When a project is government-owned, this also means it is taxpayer-funded and that’s a problem when construction costs skyrocket and subscription numbers do not keep up with projections. Guess who foots the bill when that happens? Taxpayers, or course. And, with a recent vote to approve an additional $4.5 M for project expansion in Sun Prairie, it is important to look at what has happened across the country with these projects.» Read More
December 23, 2016
This article appaeared in Inside Sources on December 21, 2016
As people celebrate the holidays in different ways across the country, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance is celebrating Festivus. The holiday created by the television show “Seinfeld” challenges all the normal rules of gift giving and decorations and is essentially a day of telling people why you’re upset with them about the choices they’ve made over the last year.
Airing of Grievances
The first tradition of Festivus is “the airing of grievances.” This part of Festivus expresses the ways that taxpayers have been disappointed over the last year. While there could have been an entire book written on taxpayer grievances, here are just a few grievances that taxpayers have with bureaucrats and lawmakers.» Read More
December 21, 2016
Below is testimony from Carl Szabo, Senior Policy Counsel with NetChoice, stating opposition to the Tennessee Department of Revenue Proposed Regulation 1320-05-01-.63; 1320-05-01-.129 – Creating a New Tax Rule. The testimony was given on December 14, 2016 and it can also be found online here.
We ask you to reject the Department of Revenue’s Regulation 1320-05-01-.63; 1320-05-01-.129 (“Rule”) as it creates costs, burdens, and new taxes on Tennessee citizens. This Rule’s problems began with its introduction and will continue through the expected legal battles. And if the Rule were to survive constitutional challenges, it would impose new burdens on your businesses and citizens.
Click "read blog" below to see the full tesimony» Read More
December 19, 2016
Finally, a government report that doesn’t fully embrace the notion of taxpayer-financed municipal broadband services. The Tennessee Advisory Group on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) recently posted a draft study (the final study is expected to be released some time early in 2017) on broadband access and investment on its website. The report outlines several municipal broadband failures and, while it does suggest that electrical cooperatives work with cities to provide broadband service directly to consumers, it strongly urges municipal leaders not to create their own taxpayer-financed networks.» Read More
June 30, 2015
July 1st marks the beginning of the fiscal year for states across the country, and with that comes the end for many legislative sessions where budgets have been completed and difficult choices on spending have been made. Unfortunately, many states have defaulted to the tired and repeated mistake of taxing tobacco products and some legislatures are even looking to go after those who partake in vaping with new taxes on what is a growing industry, the last thing it needs is excise taxes to harm that potential. This is sadly a bipartisan affair, as states run by Democrats and Republicans are getting in on the haphazardly scheme of taxing tobacco and vapor products. Here are some of the states that have done a disservice to the taxpayers that put them in office by enacting these misguided policies that do more harm than good.» Read More
March 4, 2015
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The more things change, the more they stay the same. This is an oft-repeated line, especially when it comes to elected officials and policy prescriptions. Over the years taxpayers have been subject to policies that have robbed their wallets, while doing little to address the real concerns of working families. This logic is especially true for Washington and Alabama considering that the Governors of those respective states have called for an increase in tobacco taxes. Lavendrick Smith at The Olympian outlined details of the proposal from Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D). The Washington State Senate has introduced legislation, Senate Bills 5729 and 5808, which would impose higher taxes on cigarettes and create new taxes on E-cigarettes. This would be a costly reality for taxpayers, while doing little to address the problems that Gov. Inslee is looking to fix. The increase would push the state’s tax to $3.53 per pack, making it the second highest only to New York’s $4.35 tax per pack. It is unfathomable that Gov. Inslee would lean on old failed policies that will disproportionately harm the working class, and would in turn breaking pledges made when first running for the office he now holds.
November 10, 2014
National Governors Association 2014 Winter Meeting
Stephen Adkins is a research fellow at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. Which governors do best at protecting taxpayers’ money and controlling state spending? That’s the questions answered by the Cato Institute’s 12th biennial “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors.” Residents of North Carolina, Kansas, Maine, and Indiana are in good hands, according to the report card. The study finds that, while some state executives responded to widespread upticks in state revenues by lowering tax burdens on their constituents, others, predictably, have decided to go on spending sprees. » Read More
October 20, 2014
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The evolution of the cellular phone has come a long way, so much so that what consumers use their phones for has become a crucial part of how many of us go about our daily lives. Unfortunately with that innovation and advancement in technology that has taken us from the flip phones of yesterday to the smartphones of today, comes a heavy tax burden from federal and state government. Regardless of what state someone resides in, they’re paying excessive taxes for something that has become commonplace in their life. On October 8, the Tax Foundation released a study that examines wireless tax rates for each of the fifty states. Joseph Henchman of The Tax Foundation and Economist Scott Mackey, authors of Wireless Taxation in the United States 2014, give plenty of information to sift through in this report.
June 30, 2014
The first of July marks the start of the fiscal year for many states, and as with many other years, it also brings the start of changes to the tax code for many individual states. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has kept a close eye on tax increases over the past year, including efforts to raise taxes on e-cigarettes in New Jersey, Ohio and Rhode Island. Last July TPA highlighted exactly what would change in several states across the country. Now, that time of year is once again upon us so here is a brief summary of how the tax code will change for taxpayers in selected states. Even though an increase in the minimum wage is not a tax increase, it is important to note exactly where minimum wages have been increased as Congress continues to debate the issue. Fortunately for taxpayers, not all the news is bad, there are some tax decreases.» Read More
Click 'read more' below to see the list of changes across the country.
August 14, 2013
Raising tobacco taxes is popular in the United States and abroad (see TPA’s work on international tax issues here and here). State and national governments think that they can raise revenue and discourage people from smoking with higher tobacco taxes. In reality what happens is that the revenue never materializes and consumers shift their smoking behavior from legal tobacco products to illegal products. As the title suggests, the promised revenue from increased tobacco taxes is nothing more than Fool’s Gold. The Minnesota State News pointed out that “Since 2003 there have been 57 cigarette tax increases across the nation and 68% of them have failed to meet projected revenues. In 2006, New Jersey raised cigarette taxes with the hope of pulling in $30 million in extra revenue each year. Not only did the tax hike fail to bring in extra revenue, but the state actually collected $20 million less in cigarette sales.” Yet, every year numerous states offer legislation to raise tobacco taxes. One of the highest profile states this past year was Minnesota. After a protracted battle Minnesota raised it’s tobacco tax by $1.60 per peck of cigarettes, which brings the total to $2.83 per pack, giving Minnesota the 6th highest tax on cigarettes. A new study by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) shows that Minnesota may have just made a big mistake.» Read More