Why is the Broome County Government Cheating the Poor?

By Dave Duncan

The Sales Tax

The largest share of the Broome County Government’s budget comes from the sales tax. We are led to believe that the sales tax hits every consumer equally since each person purchasing a taxable item pays the same amount. Whether it is buying clothing, spark plugs for your car, a comb or a pizza, everyone pays the same amount. Isn’t that fair?

Not Fair

The sales tax takes a much higher percent of a low income person’s income than it does from the rich.  A January 2015 report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy “Who Pays Report” shows that the effective tax rate of the 20% of the tax payers with the lowest incomes is more than twice that of the top 1% of the taxpayers.

Social Services

Those people with very low incomes are forced to apply for “welfare” in order to be able to maintain their families. Applying for welfare in Broome County is made to be a real hassle. Lines are long, paper work is long and extremely detailed, and access to getting help is difficult. Yet that should not be. The poor needing assistance are already paying a higher percentage of their income into the County budget than the rich. Welfare should be easier to obtain for those who pay a substantially higher amount of their income than the rich.

Some Pay—Some Do Not

The Broome County Industrial Development Agency has exempted many hundreds of large corporations from paying sales tax on building materials and equipment and other related items. While the records from the BCIDA have never been transparent on jobs created or sales tax exemptions over the past 40 years, it seems clear that this sales tax exemption has cost the County taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.  Until recently the Broome County Executive and many County Legislators sat on the BCIDA Board of Directors and assisted in giving total sales tax forgiveness to the wealthy corporations. The County still sponsors this agency and this uneven practice.

Flood Victims

In the past ten years Broome County and the surrounding areas have been hit by two major floods. The rampaging waters totally destroyed hundreds of homes and severely damaged thousands of others. Those that had to rebuild had to pay the full county sales tax on all materials and the charges for the trade people who did the rebuilding. The County coffers were filled by all of the purchases of labor and materials thanks to those whose homes were flooded. Why give the BCIDA sponsored corporations a sales tax forgiveness when long term residents, hurt by the floods, were forced to pay? When disasters hit that are caused by weather (acts of God) the County should not look to build up the treasury.

On an everyday basis the Broome County sales tax is just not fair to lower income people. If the BCIDA corporations paid their sales taxes the county budget would be in great shape.

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