Closing State Budget Gaps with Taxes on Upper-Income Taxpayers Gains Popularity

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As we noted last week, up until now, New York has been the most encouraging example of a state considering a progressive approach to filling its budget gap. Now, with the unveiling of Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle's proposed budget, another state can be looked to by progressives as an example to be followed.

Gov. Doyle's budget includes two main progressive reforms. First, the income tax rate on income over $300,000 per year would be raised by one percentage point. Second, the state's unusual exemption of 60% of capital gains income would be lowered to 40%. While a 40% exemption is still unnecessary and regressive, this change would be a major first step toward taxing those who live off their wealth at a rate more similar to those who work for a living. Both of these changes would primarily affect the upper-income individuals most capable of making it through this economic storm.

More good news for tax fairness advocates comes from a recent poll of New York State voters conducted by Quinnipiac University. As the poll shows, it turns out that progressive solutions make sense not just on policy grounds, but on political grounds as well. The poll found that nearly 80% of New York voters support raising the income tax on income over one million dollars. That number falls only slightly when New Yorkers are asked if they support raising income taxes on income over $500,000. Additionally, proposals to raise tax rates on income over $250,000 enjoy well over 50% support in New York. Click here for the complete poll results.

Finally, in addition to the progressive reforms described above, the Wisconsin governor is also pushing a proposal to institute combined reporting of corporate income. Enacting such a proposal is an absolutely vital part of maintaining the viability of any state's corporate income tax.

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