The tax cut ornament

Published: Saturday, July 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, July 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
What a difference a couple of years makes. Two years ago, with elections less than a month away, Congress passed a "Christmas tree" tax-cut bill that had something for just about everybody.
Florida's special ornament was a provision making state sales tax deductible from federal income tax in those states that had no state income tax. The reasoning was that states that primarily finance their operations from a sales tax instead of a payroll tax were being discriminated against.
Only eight states met that description, but most of them had an enormous amount of concentrated political power in Washington.
In October 2004, Florida was governed by the president's brother and was a toss-up state in the presidential election. Tennessee was represented in the Senate by the Republican majority leader, Bill Frist. South Dakota was represented by the Democratic minority leader, Tom Daschle. Texas was the president's home state. Wyoming was the vice president's home state. With that kind of power, how could Congress not go along?
But now the sales tax deduction has expired, and the latest tax-cut bill doesn't contain a renewal. And all that concentrated power has evaporated.
There is still hope. Another tax-cut bill might pass before the election, and that could provide a vehicle for renewal of the sales tax deduction in Florida and elsewhere.
We're not enamored of the idea of cutting taxes just for the sake of cutting taxes, especially when we're at war and running huge deficits as far as the eye can see. But if tax cuts are going to happen anyway, Florida might as well get its tree ornament again.

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