Washington Libertarian Review

Political commentary from the State of Washington with a libertarian perspective.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Libertarian Party should support Tacoma City Manager's tax proposal.

As the News Tribune reports local citizens are hotly debating City Manager Eric Anderson's proposal to replace property taxes with user fees as a method of paying for police, fire and library services.

The plan is merely in the concept stage. But a few things are immediately apparent. First, depending on the final framework, only users pay, not merely a selected group of real property owners who may or may not use the service. Second, the plan introduces a transparency of public funding unavailable in a general taxing fund. Those who pay will know exactly how much they are paying, and what they are paying for. Third, a user fee system is good for local business and investment, because it lowers fixed operating costs.

Of course, there are questions to be answered. How are the police going to charge (or collect) for responding on a domestic violence call? Would landlords pass on the tax savings to tenants, who would now have to pay for library cards? But these are details to be worked out, not reasons to reject the idea at the outset.

Finally, the City Manager's proposal, regardless of its internal merits, has created an opening for significant tax reform whether or not his proposal is ultimately adopted. The Libertarian Party should ensure that its views are at the table when the final plan is hammered out.


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