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A LITTLE HELP FROM MR. WEBSTER (Or “I, too, am fluent in sarcasm”)

April 8, 2009

Copier-and-Paster Extraordinaire Nashville Post Politics political beat writer A.C. Kleinheider Takes Pot Shot at Collegiate Journalists Offers Insightful Commentary On TN Income Taxes
By George Scoville

Despite a long history of Tennessee General Assembly struggles regarding the levying of a state-wide income tax, and the fact that only a simple majority in both TN chambers is required to overturn a Governor’s budget veto, A.C. Kleinheider clearly doesn’t see the importance to fiscal conservatives of getting a one-word response – “Absolutely” – when asking whether or not a gubernatorial candidate would support a moratorium on income taxes for salary and wage earners in Tennessee. Currently, the State of Tennessee only taxes income generated by dividend and interest payments, and is one of eight states in America that does not tax salary and wage earnings. New proposals for levying an income tax on salary and wage earnings emerge every so often (disappointingly from both sides of the aisle), as such measures would pass constitutional tests before the Tennessee Supreme Court and the General Assembly needs only a simple majority to overturn a gubernatorial veto.

So let’s refer to Mr. Webster to understand the impact of asking whether or not a gubernatorial candidate would support a moratorium:

Moratorium: (noun; Law) A period during which an obligor has a legal right to delay meeting an obligation, esp. such a period granted, as to a bank, by a moratory law. (Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.)

In essence, a moratorium on state income taxes in Tennessee would make it illegal for the General Assembly to ever levy such a tax. It’s more than a guarantee of a veto – it’s positive support for a measure which, if Republicans – who control both chambers of the Tennessee legislature for the first time in decades – get their act together, could forever forbid Tennessee from taxing wage and salary earnings – well past my life and career, Mr. Kleinheider. So when the Right Aisle Review asked a few weeks ago whether or not Mr. Wamp would support a moratorium on state income tax, those of us in the room who actually know what the word means, as well as the historical context to understand the implications of such a measure, applauded Mr. Wamp and let out a collective sigh of relief. The income tax is something of a third-rail issue in the Tennessee State Legislature, and Mr. Wamp demonstrated considerable leadership in expressing his support for a moratorium.

If Kleinheider’s sarcastic pontification is correct, and those present (including yours truly) shouldn’t have felt relieved or surprised to hear a candidate express support for this kind of measure, then by all means, A.C., I implore you to write something containing an original thought or to contribute something of value to the discussion.

Don’t think we don’t love you – you’re still on our Blogroll.

George Scoville is a senior Philosophy and Political Science double major.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2009 3:01 PM

    In essence, a moratorium on state income taxes in Tennessee would make it illegal for the General Assembly to ever levy such a tax.

    Umm…actually, all you would have to do is include a provision which repeals the moratorium in the bill creating an income tax. If 50+1 agree to create an income tax, a bill requiring a “moratorium” has as much legal weight as a New Years resolution.

  2. David Grizzell permalink
    April 8, 2009 2:47 PM

    Did Bill Haslam respond to the question? I’d be interested to see if this is a feasible idea. Tennessee’s lack of a state income tax continues to be a reason why the volunteer state is attractive to wealthy individuals. Most counties, fortunately, do not impose a state income tax either. Something you see a lot of in California.

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