• Comment

Sales tax is government's least onerous, most beneficial option

Posted: July 19, 2015 - 12:00am

From a taxpayer’s standpoint, there’s no such thing as a “good” tax.

But the closest thing to fitting the bill is a special purpose local option sales tax, which Columbia County officials are using to construct a $9 million cultural center in Evans, a new library for the city of Harlem, a new radio-system for the county’s fire and rescue operation and upgrades to county parks and recreation facilities.

Sales taxes are one the least offensive and intrusive methods a county has to fund public developments and improve the community’s quality of life.

Unlike property taxes, everyone pays – including people who don’t own property or even reside in the county. And, unlike most other forms of taxation, everyone gets their say. If residents are pleased with it, they can vote to keep it; if they are dissatisfied, they can vote it down.

No wonder sales taxes have become so prevalent. Nationally, according to the Washington-based Tax Foundation, sales taxes account for 34 percent of all state and local government revenues, just 1 percentage point below the top revenue source – the oft-maligned property tax.

The $15 million in general obligation sales tax bonds that Columbia County Commissioners approved last week will be repaid with proceeds from the 2017-22 special purpose sales tax. And because the county enjoys a superior credit rating, the finance costs will only be 2.16 percent – a rate that would make any borrower envious.

We have a feeling the citizens of Columbia County will enjoy the community improvements that this tax brings. And if they don’t, they always have the option to say “no” the next time county leaders put forth a sales tax referendum.

Taxes are an inescapable part of American life, but local residents should feel fortunate to live in a community where the government doesn’t make the process any more excruciating than it has to.

  • Comment