Children are crammed like sardines into Arizona’s public school classrooms. State and county parks are closing down. The Department of Public Safety is looking at laying off hundreds of police officers. Firefighters and paramedics are being laid off across the state. The university system is imploding. The Department of Transportation, which maintains roads and administers driver’s licenses, plans to lay off half its employees, close all highway rest areas, and shut almost all its Motor Vehicle Division offices.
So…what do our intrepid legislators do?
Of course: cut taxes!
Yes. Today when I was dragged out (again!) to GDU, I was made to fill out a new Arizona tax withholding form, even though I’d filled out my third copy of said form and turned it in just yesterday.
Said I: “I just filled that out yesterday!” (This was after having filled out and hand-delivered an eight-page surprise form, an activity entailing a 44-mile round trip and the waste of three hours of my time.)
Said the HR rep: “Oh, but this is a new form. They’ve changed it. Even though you signed a tax withholding form yesterday, we’d better do it again, just in case they decide your signature’s not valid unless it’s on a 2010 form.”
Uh huh. So I look at the form.
The change is a 1.6 percent cut in tax withholding.
Yes. They’ve cut state taxes almost 2 percent at a time when the state is suffering from a historic $1.5 billion deficit.
The average Arizona citizen will see no huge windfall from this tax cut. It works like this: You pay x percent in federal taxes. Your state tax is—or was—21.9% of that x percent. So, say your federal tax rate is 20%. You earn $100. You pay the feds $20 in taxes. You pay the state a grandiose $4.38.
No more, though: my rate dropped from 21.9% to 20.3%. Hallelujah, brothers and sisters: I save 32 cents per hundred on my state taxes.
What a windfall. On the $29,160 I’ll be earning next year, my state taxes will come to all of $1,183.89 — less than that, really, after I deduct COBRA, Medicare, long-term care insurance, mortgage interest, and everything else my tax lawyer can dream up. That represents a saving of $93.31 on a year’s tax bill, just under 29 cents a day.
Somehow I think I could have afforded 32 cents/hundred to help keep a school functioning, a road safe, a police officer in uniform, a fireman on the job, maybe even a picnic ground open. What are citizens for, anyway?
Stupidity piled on stupidity!
Image: Dunce cap. Public Domain. Wikipedia Commons.