That’s Our Money. Give It Back.

by Kerry Dougherty

We’re rich! Really rich. Rolling in dough kind of rich.

Perhaps you heard: Against all odds, Virginia is ending the fiscal year $500 million in the black.

On top of that, state officials are drooling over another $4.3 billion in federal loot that is expected to drop momentarily.

Wait. There’s more.

Any day now, Virginia should get $6.6 billion from the feds for public schools, childcare, transportation and public health.

Unless my little iPhone abacus is wrong, that adds up to more than $10 billion spilling out of the state coffers.

That sound you hear is state officials clapping their hands as they decide where to blow the money.

Some of the federal money comes with strings attached, of course. But that $500 million surplus? That’s state money earned the old fashioned way: By overtaxing citizens.

So what to do with it?

Here’s a radical idea not being considered in Richmond: Give it back.

You heard me. If the state has a massive surplus of money it’s because taxes are too high.

Return the windfall to the taxpaying schlumps who sent it to the capital. Even small “thank you” checks to hard-working Virginians who are suffering from inflation sticker shock would be appreciated.

This isn’t as radical as it sounds. Some states have constitutional amendments that mandate the return of excess funds.

Colorado for instance.

In 1992, voters in Colorado approved a Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights amendment to their constitution. TABOR, as it’s called, says state and local governments can’t raise taxes without voter approval and can’t spend excess revenues that exceed inflation and population growth.

Any funds that fall under the provision are returned in the form of rebates to the taxpayers.

After the last 16 months of misery, Virginians could use some cheering up. An unexpected check in the mail would help make amends for Richmond’s lockdowns and curfews.

There are very few things about Colorado that Virginia ought to emulate. But, heck, we’re following the rocky Mountain State’s lead on weed, why not on taxes?

This column is republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.

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23 responses to “That’s Our Money. Give It Back.”

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Source?? Pretty meaningless by itself like that.

      1. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

        That map misses our bifurcation system: NOVA is high tax, RoVA is low tax. And may miss car tax etc.

        Also misses that we selectively tax a certain cohort (middle income) for more than the fair share. If you are in RoVA. and/or lower income you can be on easy street in Virginia. If you are middle income/retired/NoVA it is not so tax friendly here, to put it mildly.

  1. emjak Avatar

    Some absolute monarchs took the position that land, and other property belonged to them and that their subjects only had the right of possession given to them at the monarch’s pleasure. Sadly, too many modern politicians seem to have similar ideas about tax money.

  2. Paul Sweet Avatar
    Paul Sweet

    I used to itemize deductions, but a couple years ago I discovered by using the standard deduction I could save over twice as much on federal taxes than I paid extra on state taxes.

    Virginia’s tax brackets haven’t changed since the 1970s, except for adding the 5.75% bracket at some point. They need to be adjusted for inflation.

    1. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

      But it was a tax increase by Virginia, admittedly your specific result may vary. Trump giveth, and Virginia taketh away, in my case. Many other states did not increase taxes like this (although MD did also).

  3. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Damn! Quick, cut taxes and piss it away! Why don’t we wait for next year’s surprise first.

    Of course, we could use it to train cops not to shoot minorities. Nah, not enough.

    1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
      Eric the half a troll

      Really, just use it to fund the cops and stop them from pulling people over with gun in hand to make ends meet!

  4. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    You realize that on a $135B budget (two year) $500M is noise don’t you…? That may mean “well, then give it back” to you but it seems that adding it to a rainy day fund might be prudent as well…

    1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
      James Wyatt Whitehead

      Keep it. Great wedge issue for Mr. Youngkin. He can hold Virginia’s leaders over this stink until November.

    2. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      1) It’s gonna be more… 2) About half will indeed go into reserves, which are not that flush at this time….3) As mentioned, I do think the state could tweak the code going forward, but discussions like mine get lower readership than Kerry’s excited rhetoric. 🙂

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Hair Club for Men. Then, you could light up like Kerry.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Clearly didn’t talk to anybody interacting with the VEC…or DMV for that matter. Or waiting for VDH to call about the shot….And then there’s all them unhappy Hoos…nah, Wallethub is a joke (and YOU know that but it’s convenient.) Probably did the survey outside ABC stores!

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Even THESE guys don’t paint as bleak as the RPV mouthpieces.

  5. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Maybe we can buy these to replace school buses…

    Hop in the bed kids. And remember, if we go off the road and land in the water, you don’t have to open the tailgate to escape drowning.

  6. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

    As a review of recent tax history, if I recall correctly. Maryland and Virginia were the only two states to disallow itemized deductions after the Trump tax cuts (TCJA). In other words, Virginia used TCJA as an excuse to further increase taxes on middle incomes (on me).

    This resulted in a huge surplus income for Virginia, at the expense of a hole in my pocket. States like CA, NY avoided that tax increase by continuing to allow itemized deductions on state returns.

    I have not yet filed my Va. state tax return for 2020, so I am rusty if Virginia continued in the same direction, or started to allow more deductions. If I understand, we can file state return later but of course we have to pay up on time.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Virginia requires that if you elect to use the federal standard deduction, you must also use the standard deduction on your state return. Or vice versa. Not quite the same as “disallowed” but yes, millions migrated to the standard and paid more state tax.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        There were two years where I checked the little box on the Sched A, agreeing to take itemized less than the Standard Deduction on the 1040 to save on the VA760.

      2. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

        Agreed, disallow is over-simplification, but basically many Va. taxpayers were not able to deduct as many itemized deductions, on the rationalization that the Fed tax law TCJA changes made it necessary for Va. to not allow as many deductions. But other states did not take that excuse to increase taxes.

        Correct I did itemize last year, by intentionally bumping up Contribs to allow my itemized deduction to exceed the threshold, which then carried thru to the Va. tax return. But that was a one-time strategy to outsmart the Virginia taxman.

  7. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Damn! A study.

    Why do we need a study when we have Kerry’s stories?

    1. Matt Adams Avatar
      Matt Adams

      Relevance to the article you commented on?

      Otherwise, this is what is known as spam.

      Beyond that, I don’t think you read what you linked or at least you didn’t understand it.

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