PFD time is no time for tax bellyaching

Posted: Friday, September 25, 2009

The Alaska Permanent Fund dividend this year is $1,305.

Ain't it great being an Alaskan?

Think about it: We've got the lowest tax burden of any citizen in the USA. No state income tax, no state sales tax. And a check from the state on top of that just for living here.

What could there possibly be to complain about?

Of course, that doesn't keep a vocal contingent in our community from constantly harping that taxes are too high. Especially as an election season rolls around you can hear the voices of the oppressed, demanding relief from the heavy tax burden.

But think a minute. Doesn't it seem just a little gauche to be belly-aching about government finances while accepting a check from the government? It's like that scene from the movie Casablanca where police Capt. Renault is closing Rick's Place for gambling while at the same time being handed his winnings for the evening.

We're not going to make judgments here today about whether the Tea Party crowd has a valid argument, despite the fact that Alaska has the lowest overall tax rate in the country. We rank 50th of all the states, with a tax burden of 6.4 percent compared to the national average of 9.7 percent.

But in the interest of pure decorum, here on the eve of Permanent Fund mania, we would humbly suggest some reserve. We would propose the month of October be declared: "No Complaining About Taxes" Month.

Dividends start hitting bank accounts by automatic deposit Oct. 8. After a few days of that, then hard copy checks start getting mailed Oct. 22. Every year the national news media feels compelled to say something about Alaska's generosity and for weeks after that, folks in New Jersey, bearing the largest tax burden of the 50 states -- 11.8 percent -- scratch their heads and mutter among themselves about fat-cat Alaskans wanting federal money to build a bridge to nowhere.

So, during the short time the annual fund payout extravaganza is upon us, and with the knowledge that we don't bear near the tax burden that others do, would it be took much to ask that we keep our tax burden complaints to ourselves -- for just a month?

A humble request, we think. However, we also realize there are those who simply can't hold it in, no matter the time or place. For those folks we have an alternative, kind of like a pollution credits plan for industry.

You can complain about taxes in October all you want. Just turn in your PFD, that's all. We'll be happy to accept them here at the front counter, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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