Ralston and taxes and Twitter! Oh my!

Victor Joecks

Yesterday I wrote a post poking fun at political pundit Jon Ralston’s suggestion that the Legislature is looking at a new tax increase – some form of new business levy – that wouldn’t “crush” businesses in this economy.

I had e-mailed him to ask what tax he was referring to, and he sent me a dismissive reply that didn’t answer my question.

So I published the post titled, “Ralston calls for a magic tax increase,” which tweaked him for assuming that there’s a new business tax increase out there that wouldn’t “crush” businesses – which I referred to as a “magic tax increase.” How big would this tax increase be? Ralston didn’t put a number on it, but, for reference only, Sen. Horsford has suggested a $1.5 billion tax increase.

Apparently, Ralston didn’t enjoy the post, as he tweeted this shortly after it was published.

Conservative narrow-think tank proposes expanding biz tax– http://bit.ly/bbXSuM –yet criticizes me 4 idea of biz tax. http://bit.ly/amZc5w

I responded on Twitter (join the more than 900 people following NPRI, by the way!), asking him what he was talking about.

NevadaPolicyRI: RT @RalstonFlash narrow-think tank//Big difference between a revenue-neutral expansion of sales tax base (consumption tax) & unknown biz tax

NevadaPolicyRI: @ralstonflash Emailed u to find out what biz tax you meant and u chose not to clarify.

NevadaPolicyRI: @ralstonflash Would u like to clarify now? Our proposal (http://bit.ly/bbXSuM) is still a great idea, happy for all the support it gets

To which he responded:

RalstonFlash: NV narrow-think tank @NevadaPolicyRI says expanding sales tax base is not new tax — now that takes some thinking! More Sunday in my column.

RalstonFlash: @SteveSebelius Yes, the clever @NevadaPolicyRI suggested I proposed “magic” tax. But it’s real magic to propose new one and say you didn’t.

Now, not being able to respond to that much misinformation in 140 characters (and wanting you all to be able to join in the fun), here’s the deal.

1. I still have no idea what new business tax and tax increase Ralston was referring to. And he, so far, has refused to share. If he was referring to NPRI’s tax proposal, One Sound State, great! NPRI welcomes his support.

2. It’s doubtful that he was referring to One Sound State, because it never called for a tax increase or a business tax. For those of you who haven’t read it (you should), it is a revenue-neutral (read: not a tax increase) proposal to eliminate the modified business tax, eliminate the insurance premium tax and expand the sales-tax base to include services while lowering the rate. This proposal would collect the same amount of taxes as our current system, but do so in a more stable and fair way.

3. The sales tax isn’t a new tax! Nevada already has a sales tax. Yes, the sales tax would be expanded to new things, but that’s not a proposal for a new tax. It’s a proposal for expanding an existing tax while lowering the rate.

4. Also, the sales tax is not a business tax. The sales tax is a consumption tax. A business tax generally refers to taxes like a modified business tax, a gross-receipts tax or a corporate-income tax. If Ralston meant expanding the sales tax when he was talking about a business tax, why didn’t he just let me know when I e-mailed him? Why doesn’t he say so now?

5. I’m not sure what this tweet is referring to: “NevadaPolicyRI says expanding sales tax base is not new tax — now that takes some thinking.” Seems like an attempt to change the subject (and see above for the difference between expanding an existing consumption tax and creating a new business tax that is a tax increase).

Anyway, if you enjoy a good disagreement and/or if you’re annoyed at seeing NPRI and the ideas of fiscal conservatives/libertarians misrepresented, would you consider sharing this story on Facebook or Twitter?

I encourage you to do this, because nothing would upset liberals more than seeing their efforts lead to the truth spreading among the conservative grassroots.

Also, please consider “Liking” NPRI on Facebook. Because as Benjamin Franklin said, “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

I don’t know what Ralston’s going to write in his Sunday column, but if it distorts NPRI’s proposals and changes the subject as much as his tweets, it’s sure to be a doozy. I wonder if he’ll find space to mention what kind of business tax he was referring to in his original column.