The town I live in, Ypsilanti, has an income tax issue on the ballot this Tuesday. It is for a proposed temporary income tax of 1% for city residents and 0.5% for non-residents who work in the city. There is some property tax roll back in the scheme which gives a break to people like me who own property in the city.
Oddly, I find myself in opposition of this tax. Most people who know me know that is not the usual position I take on these sorts of issues. I usually am very much in favor of tax increases especially when I think that the tax money will be spend wisely. I know that the last time I can remember any kind of tax increase in Ypsilanti being voted on (the road one around six or seven years ago), I voted yes for it. I just cannot, in good conscience vote for this income tax.
Firstly, I dont like it because I think that with the property tax roll back, it places more burden on renters than on homeowners. Since renters tend to be poorer, it puts too much burden on hard working lower income people who are the very group of people I believe should have tax burden lifted from them.
This poorer group is also represented by people who work in our city. Yeah, ok, the people over at EMU probably have pretty decent jobs at decent pay (especially the professors), but over on my street there is a factory. A factory which, judging by the cars its workers drive and by how many dont seem to have cars at all, clearly is not paying too much. And there are lots of other low-wage jobs in this city and those people probably cant afford the tax either. I mean, even if their tax burden is only a hundred dollars a year, it is important to remember that for a poor family, a hundred dollars is a LOT of money. It is a utility bill. It is a winter coat. It is a whole wardrobe from Value World. A week's groceries. Whatever. I just know when I see the workers at that factory that they can ill afford such a tax.
Another reason I am against this tax is that I think the main reason the City of Ypsilanti needs this tax is because the tax structure in our state is broken. I believe that this tax will not fix that but instead may hide some of the symptoms of it which will mean that things are less likely to change. Maybe the state needs to see cities like Ypsilanti struggling? Something has to change though. It sucks that I have to pay so much more tax than my neighbors in Ypsilanti Township. It sucks that I have to pay so much more tax than my parents, who live in Green Oak Twp in a house easily worth four times as much as mine. I dont mean that I have a higher rate either, I mean that I pay more tax...more than a thousand dollars more!
This income tax is also something that is very visible and something that will have an effect on the housing market here and not a positive one. I know that reduced fire and police protection and all of the other cuts that will happen without the income tax will also have a negative effect on house and rental prices but I think that because an income tax is so in-your-face visible and reduced fire and police are not things that one notices every day, the tax will have the more negative effect.
So, please vote NO on the City Income Tax.