THE BILL GATES INCOME TAX (WALL STREET JOURNAL)
If Washington’s most famous billionaires are really worried about their state’s finances, they’d write personal checks to the government and leave everyone else alone.
Bill Gates Sr. has personally contributed $500,000 to promote a statewide proposition on Washington’s November ballot that would impose a brand new 5 percent tax on individuals earning over $200,000 per year and couples earning over $400,000 per year. An additional 4 percent surcharge would be levied on individuals and couples earning more than $500,000 and $1 million, respectively.
Doing so would put the state’s economy at risk, says Arthur Laffer, chairman of Laffer Associates.
To imagine what such a large soak-the-rich income tax would do to Washington, we need only examine how states with the highest income-tax rates perform relative to their zero-income tax counterparts. Comparing the nine states with the highest tax rates on earned income to the nine states with no income tax shows how high tax rates weaken economic performance.
- In the past decade, the nine states with the highest personal income tax rates have seen gross state product increase by 59.8 percent, personal income grow by 51 percent and population increase by 6.1 percent.
- The nine states with no personal income tax have seen gross state product increase by 86.3 percent, personal income grow by 64.1 percent and population increase by 15.5 percent.
Over the past 50 years, 11 states have introduced state income taxes exactly as Washington is proposing — and the consequences have been devastating, says Laffer.
- Each and every state that introduced an income tax saw its share of total U.S. output decline.
- Some of the states, like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, have become fiscal basket cases.
- Even West Virginia, which was poor to begin with, got relatively poorer after adopting a state income tax.
- Over the past decade, the nine states with the highest tax rates have experienced tax revenue growth of 74 percent — a full 22 percent less than the states with no income tax.