Our View: Welcome, gov! Now fix your income tax train wreck

February 11, 2019

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey comes to town today. He’s due to speak on water and the state’s economic growth and the other items in his state-of-the-state report.

We wish he’d do the one thing he needs to do: Fix the income tax mess he created.

Well into tax filing season, Arizonans don’t know how much they really owe in state income taxes and that’s thanks to the governor. Sure, taxpayers can file on the forms Ducey’s administration printed, but the forms are in conflict with state tax law.

Oh, and those forms demand higher taxes, too.

If Ducey’s created as many jobs and as much prosperity as he claims, there should be no need to seek higher tax payments from each individual. Ducey’s had plenty of chances to update Arizona’s tax laws. He hasn’t. Instead, he’s taken the approach that the state is entitled to a lot more money from taxpayers simply because the federal government changed tax law.

It may amount to $150 million or more out of taxpayers’ pockets, but Ducey won’t let anyone call it a tax increase. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck….

Federal tax law changed to reduce rates and also reduce itemized deductions and increase standard deductions. Arizona law doesn’t mesh. Ducey wants the state to follow the feds without following the tax rate reduction or changing the standard deduction.

There are ways around this, but Ducey vetoed the most straightforward of them: A state tax reduction to offset the state’s revenue gains. The anti-tax governor appears determined to soak citizens in taxes.

By the way, this comes on the heels of a new $32 motor vehicle registration fee that was set by his Department of Transportation.

The public is irate and justifiably so.

If that weren’t bad enough for the governor, his income tax gambit also threatens his credibility on economic growth.

Ducey’s done a good job with government policies that encourage a prosperous Arizona. Or so we thought. Who knew the state was in such dire need of cash that it would take an opportunistic grab at these new tax dollars?

Will growth propel state tax revenue or will it be the tax increase? How will anyone be able to tell the difference? The deeper into tax season the state goes with Ducey refusing to concede, the more taxpayer uncertainty will translate into animosity. The governor needs to fix this mess and do it without fleecing the public.

— Today’s News-Herald

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