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Here's one way to get new revenue for state: tax Alaskans' dividends

Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2002

The governor is looking for new tax revenue to finance the state's increasingly expensive operations.

We have a proposal that would go a long way toward accomplishing Gov. Tony Knowles' goal -- one that would be simple to administer, would not result in a whole new bureaucracy to run and would be virtually painless to the people of Alaska.

No income tax, like the governor wants. No new alcohol tax. Not even a passenger fee on cruise ship passengers, yet our plan would instantly raise $200 million, or thereabouts.

Our proposal is for a tax on the permanent fund dividend payments received by every Alaska man, woman and child. Easy -- 20 percent, right off the top. Fair and simple. Everybody pays -- but absolutely painlessly.

It would be money you'd never see in the first place. Nothing out of your pocket, because it's withheld by the state before your check even arrives in the mail.

Instead of a $2,000 check, for example, you'd get a check for $1,600. Not bad.

No tax form to fill out. No special office created to process the returns. No new fraud division to see whether everybody is playing fair. All handled easily within the existing office that prints the checks and mails 'em out.

Sure, we acknowledge that some people will howl and complain and shed copious tears. But on what logical basis? You could argue that the dividend stays the same -- it's just that the state is getting its share to pay for the increased cost of running the government. But you shouldn't miss what you never had in the first place.

This is not ''free'' money that you had in your pocket, only to have the state reach out and reclaim a portion of it. Under this proposal, the state gets the first slice off the banana. We get all the rest.

And it shouldn't cost 15 cents to administer the whole tax program.

Any objections?

-- Voice of the (Anchorage) Times

Jan. 31



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