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Art of taxation: Exploring the pain threshold

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By Sherry Robinson

A Frenchman once said the art of tax collection is plucking the goose just below the threshold of greatest hissing.

Legislators and the governor will explore that threshold during this 30-day session as they attempt to dam the flow of red ink. Nobody’s pretending this will be easy, but it’s encouraging that the governor and lawmakers begin the process pretty close together with a slate of proposed spending cuts and tax increases.

The governor says everything’s on the table, but he’s adamant about preserving economic development tax credits and the much discussed rollback in the top personal income tax bracket. Good for him.

Critics have hollered a lot about income tax breaks for what they assume are fat cats.

Return with me now seven whole years ago to 2003, when Gov. Bill Richardson’s band wagon rolled into town, and everybody jumped on. We then had the highest rates on the upper brackets of the surrounding states. It was hurting our ability to attract new industry; a business owner wasn’t likely to subject himself to a big tax bite if he had other options. (Texas, remember, has no income tax, although it’s found many other ways to pluck the goose.)


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