(Alexandria, VA) – Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is finally “embracing his inner liberal” by proposing an $844 million income tax hike on Ohioans of all income levels – that’s the assessment of the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU), which charged the Governor with misleading voters in his speech Wednesday when he insisted that his plan does not constitute a tax increase. NTU has more than 13,500 members in the state of Ohio.
“By any reasonable definition, a tax increase is a tax increase when it forces citizens to pay more money to the government than they otherwise would be required to do,” NTU State Government Affairs Director Josh Culling, a former Toledo resident, said. “That’s exactly what Governor Strickland would do by proposing to take away relief that Ohio taxpayers were counting on to make ends meet in their own family budgets.”
In 2005, Gov. Bob Taft signed a personal income tax cut that would phase in over five years, between 2004 and 2009, resulting in a total tax cut of 21 percent. It was intended to reduce taxes annually at every income level through the current tax year. This tax cut is now in grave danger because Gov. Strickland faces a budget deficit of around $850 million.
As Culling noted, this deceptive tactic of calling for a “temporary” delay of tax relief is all too familiar to overburdened citizens in other states. In Virginia, for example, complete phase-out of the hated personal property tax on automobiles was put on hold some seven years ago and has never been revisited. In 2002, Massachusetts lawmakers overrode a voter-approved rollback in the income tax to 5 percent; the rate remains above that level today.
Culling also pointed out that employers across Ohio adjusted their withholding tables for 2009 in expectation that the income tax rate reduction for this year would apply. Taking away that reduction now would shrink millions of paychecks for the rest of the year, would cut into tax refunds next year, or could do both. This action could damage prospects of an economic recovery.
“Governor Strickland should not tax hard working Ohioans more in an attempt to pay for the state’s out-of-control spending habits,” Culling concluded. “The fact that Gov. Strickland isn’t even calling his action a tax hike makes the act particularly despicable. Taxpayers beware – your wallets are in the crosshairs of tax-and-spend politicians.
NTU is a nonpartisan, nonprofit citizen organization founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government, accountability from public officials, and economic freedom at all levels. Note: For more information, visit www.ntu.org.