- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 26, 2002

First it was a sales-tax increase, now it's a potential income-tax hike. Virginia lawmakers seem absolutely determined to filch as much cash from state taxpayers as they possibly can even amid a recession and even when the state's "revenue" stream is already at appallingly high levels. The saddest part, though, is that Republican lawmakers are pushing for the sales and income taxes as hard as Democrats.

On Friday, tax-and-spenders such as Fairfax Delegate Jeannemarie Devolites were working to gin up votes in support of a local income-tax measure that already appears to have the tacit support of Virginia's Democratic governor, Mark R. Warner. "I'm working my darndest to see what I can do," Mrs. Devolites said. "This is the better way to go: It would keep every dollar raised at home." This remark was in response to concerns voiced by some lawmakers that any new sales tax levied would end up in Richmond or other parts of the state, with only a portion returned to Northern Virginia to pay for school construction and other such pet projects. But the school and transportation crunches are not the result of insufficient state revenues from taxpayers. They are the direct result of atrocious and irresponsible regional planning. In the meantime, localities are left with the expensive infrastructure problems and school shortages created by the massive influx of new residents, their cars and their children.

In any case, it is simply unconscionable for local pols such as Mrs. Devolites, who rode to office on the coattails of anti-tax former Gov. Jim Gilmore, incidentally to even suggest that area taxpayers face a triple-threat tax burden. Federal and state taxes are already onerous and now a Republican lawmaker, of all people, wants to give local bureaucrats direct access to whatever's left over. Mrs. Devolites may insist that any local income tax would be "minimal," but that's a promise only a fool could accept. The federal income tax was supposed to affect only "the rich" when it was first enacted. Now, most Americans pay about a third of their annual income (often more, especially when FICA is factored in) to feed the Leviathan in Washington. Taxpayers don't need yet another rapacious maw to pour their sustenance into. Mrs. Devolites and her cohorts need to keep their sticky fingers to themselves and figure out a way to make do with the funds already extracted from taxpayers. Enough is enough. The local income tax is an idea whose time will hopefully never come.

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