The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

10 March 2008

An arrow through the head

Rep. Steve Martin (R-Bartlesville) evidently fancies himself a modern-day Robin Hood: he's introduced a measure to siphon off a portion of sales-tax collections from larger cities and redistribute it to the smaller ones.

How Martin's proposal is supposed to work:

The Oklahoma Tax Commission each month would take 1 percent of each city's sales tax collections and put it in a fund. The commission then would give each city or town an amount of money based on its population in comparison to the total population of all cities and towns that had a sales tax levy of at least 1 percent.

County levies don't count. Tulsa would have to fork over about $16 million over the next year; Oklahoma City, around $13 million.

Surprisingly, this isn't the worst idea Martin's come up with:

Martin has spent the past couple of years looking at a method in which shoppers would give their home city's tax code. But that would require businesses to install equipment and to train employees, not to mention informing shoppers how the process would work.

Even if the complicated, costly proposal could be implemented, shoppers perhaps would have to present some identification so that the correct city would be credited with the sales tax on the purchase, Martin said.

What is needed, but so far not forthcoming, is some way to make Oklahoma municipalities less dependent upon sales tax for revenue. [Link goes to Word document.] We'll have to wait for some other wild and crazy guy to solve that one.

Posted at 5:23 PM to Political Science Fiction , Soonerland

No. What is needed, but so far not forthcoming, is for people to start wanting to decorate lampposts when crap like this is introduced instead of waiting until it's enacted.

Because if you wait until it's enacted, eventually it will be.

Posted by: McGehee at 7:30 PM on 10 March 2008

Well, this bill of Martin's isn't going anywhere, but the point is duly taken.

Posted by: CGHill at 8:31 PM on 10 March 2008

Well, as someone in a municipality that is almost certainly going to vote "yes" to jacking our sales taxes up to 9 1/8th, I don't quite know what to think. (I do think 9 1/8 is too much, I will say that.)

The one thing we don't need, though, is for every shopper in the state to be asked, "And what tax district do you live in" as they are paying for their (sales-taxed, and that feels wrong to me) groceries. Because, have you seen how slowly the lines at Wal-marts move NOW? Can you imagine getting behind some privacy advocate who refuses? Ugh.

Posted by: fillyjonk at 7:31 AM on 11 March 2008

We free-spending maniacs here in Capital City are paying 8.375 percent through the end of 2009 or the spring of 2010, depending upon the NBA situation.

It's my understanding that Fayetteville, Arkansas is running over 9 percent.

Posted by: CGHill at 7:42 AM on 11 March 2008

Living in Choctaw, I wouldn't mind seeing some of the sales tax revenue from the Wal-Mart up US 62 (NE 23rd) from us swing back this way, instead of being wasted in Midwest City's coffers.

Instead of Martin's plan, how about allowing us to enter our zip code or city at the keypad while waiting at the checkout? This way, the privacy advocate could refuse, and be charged at the location of the store's rate instead of helping out his/her home town.

Posted by: Dan B at 8:21 AM on 11 March 2008

They can't really do this by ZIP code. For one thing, a lot of Oklahoma City residents are served by the Edmond or Yukon post offices. (They could do it by 9-digit, I suppose, but who knows their 9-digit ZIPs?)

Posted by: CGHill at 8:46 AM on 11 March 2008