Special Report

Information Our Government Apologists Don’t Want You To Have

he sort of comparative tax information all taxpayers are entitled to and invariably find fascinating is so readily available that the absence of such information in the daily press raises serious questions about whether today’s newspapers primarily represent you or government.

The four charts on this page have been published by several trade and professional associations in Nevada including the Nevada Manufacturers Association. The first three of the four tables represent data compiled by the Tax Foundation in Washington, DC and widely distributed, and the fourth table comes from government itself, specifically from the U.S. Census Bureau which will disseminate updated data later this year.

Nevada’s high "per capita tax burden"—seventh highest among the states for federal taxes and sixth highest when it comes to state and local taxes—comes as little surprise to those who are familiar with comparative taxes. Nevada’s state sales tax, state gasoline tax, insurance premiums tax, automobile registration fees and more are all substantially higher than comparable taxes and fees in most states. And Nevada then adds to the tax burden by being one of only 23 states to levy county sales taxes on top of its states sales tax, one of only 13 states to levy county gasoline taxes on top of its state gasoline tax, and one of only six states to tax insurance premiums.

When reported at all in the press, these high taxes are invariably justified by the fact that Nevada has no state income tax, but there are eight states with no state income taxes and the residents of six of them enjoy state and local per capita tax burdens lower than Nevada’s.

Meanwhile, Nevada’s 6.25 percent gaming tax is the lowest in the nation. Since the gaming tax was last raised, Nevada’s state gas tax has been raised 290 percent, its insurance premiums tax has been increased 75 percent, its basic automobile registration fee 310 percent, its cigarette tax 350 percent and its driver’s license fee 250 percent—just to cite a few of the dozens of tax and free increases imposed on Nevada residents in the last two decades.

The last of these four charts, from the U.S. Census Bureau, tells part of the story. On a per capita basis, state and local government in Nevada is more costly than in most states. But the rest of the story has more to do with lack of accountability on the part of the Nevada Legislature and the state’s newspapers which owe it to Nevada taxpayers to make this sort of comparative tax information available before consideration of each and every proposed tax or fee increase.

Federal Tax Burden Per Capita, 1996

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State and Local Taxes Per Capita,  1997

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State and Local Taxes Per $1,000 Personal Income, 1997

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State and Local Spending Per Capita, 1993

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— Information compiled from the Tax Foundation and U.S. Census Bureau by Senior Consulting Editor Ralph Heller. u


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