To the editor:
With the passing of Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn went the Nevada governor who had the courage and leadership to push through an $836 million tax increase in 2003 to balance the state’s budget. The tax increase was strongly opposed by many from his party, but it was necessary to prevent a budget meltdown.
Today, our budget shortfall is more than $3 billion, yet neither candidate seems willing to discuss raising taxes or offer specific budget solutions. Refusing to discuss the inevitable tax increase and other politically controversial budget measures is akin to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
Signs point to gridlock in 2011 because there is little left to cut and a large percentage of Nevada citizens are strongly opposed to a tax increase — and rightly so. Thanks to our state’s dependence on sales taxes, Nevada has one of the most regressive tax systems in the nation. The average Nevadan pays 6.5 percent in taxes, while the wealthiest pay about 2 percent.
I suggest the Legislature start by taxing those organizations that have for decades paid far fewer taxes than the ordinary Nevada citizen, like mining, large corporations and big business.
Nevada is unique, being the largest gold producer in the United States and fourth largest in the world. Between 2000 and 2007, the mining industry extracted $25.5 billion in gold, but because of “exclusions,” “deductions” and “exemptions,” paid taxes of about half a percent on wealth that left the state.
More than 300,000 companies incorporated in Nevada pay no taxes on corporate income, corporate shares, inventory, personal income, inheritance, gift, unitary, estate, franchise fees, etc., and enjoy many favorable business laws.
Only Nevada, Washington and Wyoming have no corporate profits tax, which in neighboring states is between 5 percent and 6.9 percent.
Local governments seem to be close-minded about financing tax increases by methods other than property and sales tax increases, which only worsens the tax burden of ordinary citizens while letting these mega-entities escape paying their fair share.