Category Archives: Taxes

Virginia Slides Lower in ALEC Economic Rankings

American Legislative Exchange Council rated Virginia 30th out of 50 states using these three measures of economic performance over ten years. Click for larger view.

by Steve Haner

First published earlier today by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.

As measured by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Virginia’s economic outlook has continued its precipitous drop and now barely ranks in the top half among the American states, 24th out of 50. A decade ago it was in the top five, ranking third in 2011 and 2012 and fifth in 2013.

Using three direct measures of actual economic performance, gross domestic product and job growth and population out migration, ALEC placed Virginia 30th among the 50 states over the past decade. Neighboring North Carolina, on the other hand, ranked 12th in recent economic performance and second in economic outlook.

Virginia’s number 24 ranking in the annual “Rich States, Poor States” outlook comparison will be dismissed by some as less important than other indicators of competitiveness, including the ultimate bragging point of being number one in the last CNBC ranking of best states for business. But the downward trend is dramatic, Virginia having ranked 17th last year and dropping seven places in this survey. Continue reading

The Monetary Rape of Middle-Class Retirees

by James A. Bacon

This past year saw one of the greatest redistributions of wealth in U.S. history. People are upset by the 8.5% increase in inflation, but they’re not nearly as upset as they should be.

Wage earners, especially lower-income wage earners, have every right to be irate. Their hourly pay has increased, but not nearly as rapidly as the Consumer Price Index, and far less than those components of the CPI such as food, housing and gasoline that comprise a major share of their household budgets. Many were living paycheck to paycheck before the onset of inflation. Now they’re drowning.

Retirees ought to be enraged. Inflation is more devastating by far to their financial security than taxes. A retiree family with a middle-class standard of living might pay, say, $20,000 a year in federal taxes. But if they have a $1 million nest egg in 401(k), IRA and other investments, an 8.5% inflation rate pillages $85,000 from their net worth.

Who are the beneficiaries of inflation? Borrowers — homeowners with a mortgage, consumers with credit card debt, motorists paying off notes on their cars, corporations that have taken advantage of Federal Reserve Bank-engineered low interest rates to leverage their balance sheets, and, of course, the biggest borrower on the face of the planet… the U.S. federal government. Continue reading

A Bag Of Oranges and Gas Tax Posturing

by Steve Haner

The bag of mandarin oranges that was $4.99 last week was $5.99 this morning. Fruit trees aren’t getting raises – that is the impact of fuel prices, the cost to ship them to Virginia.

As I’m fuming and pushing my cart to the next inflated item, the phone pings to announce an email. Could relief for gas prices be on the way? is the teaser headline from Virginia Mercury, with its lead story this morning a straight-faced discussion of the truly comedic proposal yesterday by House Democrats. They offer Virginia car owners a one-time $50 payment ($100 for a two-car family) in lieu of actually lowering the fuel taxes, as Governor Glenn Youngkin has proposed. Continue reading

Virginia Budget Deal Stalled as Democrats Demand $3B in Increased Spending

by Shaun Kenney

Just to illustrate how fanatically out of touch Senate Democrats are as they frantically try to spend $3 billion on more government, check out State Senator Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) on Twitter as he blasts Governor Glenn Youngkin’s proposal for gasoline tax relief:

Remember — we are sitting on a $3bn surplus fueled by COVID relief dollars and not by any metric of economic success. Yet Senate Democrats continue to lean into the hammock of so-called budget cuts as they continue to shove money into the maw of state government for the sake of producing mediocre results. Continue reading

Tell Me Again. Why Are Virginia Taxes So Bad?

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

I have taxes on my mind.  It is sort of hard not to be thinking a lot about taxes these days. I just finished compiling my tax returns (yes, I realize that I am a procrastinator). The Governor is telling me that the state taxes me too much and he wants to give some of it back and lower my future taxes. Many folks on this blog also say that my state taxes are too high.

I must admit that I have not paid a great deal of attention to the details of my state tax returns in recent years. I just plugged the numbers into Turbotax and whatever return it spit out, I filed and paid what I owed or got the refund it said I was due, whichever was the case. (You have to admit; that state form produced by the electronic tax filing programs is not easy to follow without a program.)

This year, with all the talk about taxes swirling about, I decided to pay more attention to the details of Virginia’s income tax provisions. I found that they are not nearly as bad as the Governor and others make out. At least not for retirees, like me. Continue reading

Richmond’s Reaganesque Time for Choosing

Chris Braunlich

by Chris Braunlich

Richmond, like Washington, has always been a place where an “insider’s game” is played – not in a pejorative sense, but simply as the way things are done.

Relationships are paramount, people speak in the arcane language of lawmaking, agendas are confusing for outsiders, and the activities of a subcommittee for an obscure commission are followed in detail because those in the know understand that what happens there will end up as a new regulation. Continue reading

Fairfax’s Un-Affordable Housing Program

by Arthur Purves

If you live in Fairfax County and are over 50, you may have received from the county a five-page 120-question survey to “…inform the county’s … Future Aging Plan.” Here’s the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance Future Aging Plan: stop taxing us out of our homes.

For 20 years, county supervisors have been increasing real estate taxes three times faster than household income. Real estate taxes are the supervisors’ “Unaffordable Housing Program.” The supervisors do have an “Affordable Housing Program,” but with a waiting list so long that they’re afraid to disclose it. Their Unaffordable Housing Program, however, has no waiting list: Homeowners get a tax hike July 28.

Assessments increased almost 10%. Many people think that if assessments increase, real estate taxes must increase, too. This is false. Supervisors can prevent a tax hike by lowering the tax rate 10 cents. However, if they keep the rate unchanged, they get an extra $250 million. That’s a quarter of billion dollars. Continue reading

Richmond, Its Unions and Taxes

by James C. Sherlock

Richmond residents should note that:

The number of employees at City of Richmond in year 2020 was 4,140.

Average annual salary was $56,410 and median salary was $50,001. City of Richmond average salary is 20 percent higher than USA average and median salary is 15 percent higher than USA median.

Median per capita income in Richmond in 2020 dollars was $35,862. Median household income was $51,421. Approximately 21% of Richmond citizens live below the poverty level.

The City of Richmond’s FY 2023 total General Fund budget is estimated to be $836,015,828, an 8.18% increase when compared to the FY 2022.

The increases in spending represent a projected balanced budget based on estimated increases in revenues. Those in turn are driven by a projected increase in General Property Taxes – notably a 13.13% increase in real estate tax collections; increases in Sales Tax (9.27%); and increases in Prepared Meals Taxes (15.95%).

Those increases in tax collections are largely from Richmond taxpayers. How many got double-digit increases in income in 2022? Just asking.

Now the Richmond City Council is about to approve negotiations with its unions on pay and benefits. The RPS, of course has gone much further than the City Council in putting everything on the table.

Those costs are not in the budget. Continue reading

Know the Terms of Surrender in Negotiating With Teachers Unions

Courtesy of Show Me Institute

by James C. Sherlock

Franklin Roosevelt thought collective bargaining agreements incompatible with public sector work.

Today’s left, unburdened by the public interest, finds FDR’s principles at best quaint.

Since May of last year collective bargaining is legal in Virginia for local government employees by local option, but for not state employees.

The issues most people think of being negotiated by unions are pay and benefits and, in blue collar unions, on-the-job safety. For teachers unions, we need to be sure negotiations are limited to pay and benefits, or they will take over the running of the schools.

Such a takeover is now policy in Richmond Public Schools. Continue reading

The State Budget: The House Reductions to Cover Tax Cuts

Del. Barry Knight (R-Virginia Beach, chairman, House Appropriations Committee

Budget is policy. A budget reflects what an organization chooses to spend its money on.

The differences between the versions of the 2022-2024 biennial budget passed by the House and Senate this year are starker than they have been in recent memory. There are major philosophical and policy differences that the conferees will need to work out.

However, before they even get to those differences, there is another obstacle they will need to confront: they differ significantly on how much money the state will bring in. They have to agree on ow much money they have to spend before they can seriously discuss how to spend it.

The Senate budget is based on total general fund revenue that is about $3.4 billion higher than projected by the House. (Unless otherwise specified, all funding amounts in this article refer to the general fund.) The reason for the wide gap, of course, is the House adopting greater tax cuts than the Senate. Steve Haner has very ably compared the different approaches to tax cuts on this blog here, here, and here. Continue reading

Two “Day One” Proposals Fail

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Glenn Youngkin is quickly learning that being governor is not like being CEO of a large corporation. Just because the guy at the top wants something done does not mean that it will be done.

One of Youngkin’s campaign promises was to require local governments to have a referendum before they could approve a real property tax rate after a reassessment that would result in more than a one percent increase in property tax revenues. Under current law, the local government must have a separate public hearing only if it does not propose to reduce the rate to a level that would produce an increase of no more than one percent in the property tax revenues.

The Senate bill that would have implemented this promise, SB 620,  Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake, was killed by the Senate Finance Committee on a 12-4 vote. The House counterpart, HB 1010, Durant, R-Stafford, had a different story. Continue reading

Last Stand for a Higher Standard Deduction

by Steve Haner

First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.

The argument now dividing the General Assembly on partisan lines is not whether to cut the state income tax, but for whom. The House of Delegates goes big with a broad tax cut that brings Virginia into line with other states, but the Senate only wants small changes aimed at smaller groups of taxpayers. Continue reading

“Frozen” Property Taxes

by James C. Sherlock

I admit my fascination with how newspapers present various issues. It is an important window into the information their readers are getting.

City manager and county executive proclamations that property tax rates are “frozen” are meant to sound like fiscal constraint. Consider this headline from The Washington Post:

“Fairfax County executive proposes budget with tax-rate freeze, less pandemic austerity”

First paragraph:

“Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill proposed a budget Tuesday that would freeze the residential property tax rate while spending more on county services — part of a push to end fiscal austerity in Northern Virginia amid signs of economic stability”

End “fiscal austerity” in Fairfax County. Seriously?

“Hill was able to present a $4.85 billion spending plan that focuses on some key areas of growth for Virginia’s most populous jurisdiction while keeping the residential property tax rate at $1.14 per $100 of assessed value.”

Where do we get such men? Everybody wins, right? Continue reading

You Want to Raise Your Tax on Yourself? Forget It.

Del. James Edmunds (R-Halifax)

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Several years ago, officials in Halifax County were confronting the problem of what to do about the local high school. There was consensus that something needed to be done. The only question was whether to make extensive renovations or build a new one. Depending on the option selected, the price tag was estimated to range from $88 million to $100 million.

The debt service on either amount would have been significant, especially for a county with a median household income of $42,289, ranking it 105 out of 132 jurisdictions. At the behest of his home county, Delegate James Edmunds, R-Halifax, introduced legislation (HB 1634) in the 2019 Session of the General Assembly that would have authorized any locality, subject to approval in a local referendum, to increase its local sales tax, with the additional revenue earmarked for school renovation or construction. As was common with such legislation, the bill morphed from one of general application to being applicable only to Halifax County and with a cap of one cent on any increase. The bill was reported out by the House Finance Committee on a 13-8 bipartisan vote and passed both houses with strong bipartisan votes (77-23, House; 29-11, Senate). Continue reading

Senate: “Trust Us This Time on Tax Reform”

One of Charles Schulz’s most iconic and useful images.

by Steve Haner

First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.

Virginia government is flooded with cash — tax revenues far in excess of what is needed to maintain its current level of services and a fair reserve. Key votes have now been taken and the House of Delegates is poised to return much of the excess money back to taxpayers. The Senate of Virginia wants to keep the money and continue growing government ever larger.

Yet another monthly financial update showing surging tax receipts was released Friday.

Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) campaigned on and has introduced a series of tax reductions, most (but not all) of which will likely receive approval by the full House by today or tomorrow. Some of them (but not all) have received bipartisan support during their consideration in committee.

But the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, meeting late Thursday, voted to stay with the minor tax cuts/more spending approach proposed by outgoing Governor Ralph Northam (D). Some committee Republicans joined in voting against Youngkin’s proposals, delaying others for a promised study. Continue reading