Where is PLAN’s outrage over tax plan to soak the poor?

Victor Joecks

To fully understand this question, you should read Geoff Lawrence's commentary about two proposals to dramatically increase Nevada's "sin" taxes. AB277 and AB255 would more than double the taxes on tobacco and alcohol.

The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) put out a study earlier this year, detailing how sin taxes disproportionately affect the state's poorest families as it relates to their income. For details, look on page 22 and examine the percentage of income paid by families in the "Other sales & excise tax – individuals" category. Families among the lowest 20 percent of income earners pay 1.3 percent of their incomes toward that tax. Families in the top 1 percent of wage earners pay 0.0 percent.

PLAN's marketing of its report leads off with the claim that "PLAN's report details the fundamental unfairness of the existing tax system to poor and working families," and the report devotes a couple of pages to a section titled, "Nevada soaks the poor."

Here's a challenge for PLAN: If you're serious about fixing the "fundamental unfairness of the existing tax system," then come out against AB277 and AB255, which your own study shows would disproportionately affect the poor.

PLAN should do the intellectually honest thing and come out against higher sin taxes. Otherwise, its "fair-tax-system" rhetoric will be revealed as a mere disguise used to try to get us all to pay higher taxes.

For more, read this Review-Journal op-ed that calls out PLAN for supporting higher sin taxes.

Side note (and a potential argument against this point): Comparing any expense as a proportion of income is slanted, because the poor pay more for almost everything as a proportion of their income. That's part of the reason why they're considered poor. It is a good argument, but since proportion of income is the standard PLAN chose to use, it's fair and legit to hold them to their own criteria.