Readers Write (Feb. 8): State finances, taxes, veterans, jumper cables

  • Updated: February 7, 2013 - 6:32 PM
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STATE FINANCES

You want to leave to avoid obligation? Go.

 

Why should we care about businesses that leave Minnesota, or any other state, because they can't avoid paying taxes in the place where they make their profits? These corporate pirates undermine the economic free-market principles that are the underpinnings of American capitalism. Good riddance!

Good riddance also to the rules that allow rich Minnesotans to live in Minnesota for enough days of the year to avoid paying taxes, while they enjoy the rest of the year in tax-free retirement states.

DONNA CALLENDER, EDINA

• • •

The article "Tax havens cost state $2B" (Feb. 6) listed in descending order the 10 states with the largest dollar losses due to corporate and individual tax avoidance.

Just for fun, I correlated the list the newspaper published with the U.S. Statistical Abstract figures for the population of each of these 10 states. After all, the number that matters most is the loss to each of the 5.3 million Minnesotans receiving state governmental services.

Here are the top 10 rearranged in ascending order to show the per capita tax revenue loss:

10) Florida: $52.92

9) North Carolina: $111.60

8) Pennsylvania: $167.06

7) Maryland: $169.47

6) California: $193.69

5) Illinois: $197.29

4) New York: $219.23

3) Massachusetts: $255.76

2) New Jersey: $325.63

And finally, at No. 1, and significantly ahead of all these sister states, is Minnesota with a per capita loss of $368.49.

Is this because Minnesotans, superior at so many endeavors, are also superior at legally avoiding taxes by siting assets and activities in other jurisdictions? Or, more plausibly, is it because Minnesota's tax structure for profitable businesses and high-income individuals offers the greatest reward for making use of these avoidance techniques?

Most frighteningly, what is the follow-on effect when high-income individuals and profitable businesses, relocated in part or entirely in other jurisdictions, make decisions about where to site employment or to buy goods and services?

Perhaps our state could better prosper selling itself for its skilled workforce and quality of life, with no penalty attached to being here beyond the purchase of cold-weather clothing.

DAVID K. HACKLEY, MINNEAPOLIS

• • •

As a downtown business owner who gets daily product deliveries by truck, out of self interest I hesitate to ask this, but as we've all been enjoying whipsaw gasoline prices that can vary 20 cents a gallon between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and can spike 60 cents a gallon in two weeks at the whim of the gas companies, why are we not considering raising taxes on gasoline? Any argument that Minnesotans can't afford higher taxes at the pump seems patently preposterous. Obviously, we do find a way to pay whatever the oil companies charge. Moreover, the price per gallon in Wisconsin is consistently higher than Minnesota because that state has a higher gasoline tax. Given all the pain we're inflicting with other proposed tax changes, this source of funds seems better than many of the others under consideration.

NAOMI WILLIAMSON, FRIDLEY

• • •

Question of the day: If Gov. Mark Dayton and his Democratic friends believe that higher tobacco taxes will reduce the amount of tobacco purchased, how come they don't believe that broader sales and higher income taxes will reduce the amount of sales and the amount of income reported in Minnesota?

BRUCE J. DOWNEY, EAGAN

* * *

TAXES

While we're on the subject ...

 

Even though federal excise taxes of 10 percent and 11 percent have long been levied and collected on ammunition and firearms, their sales have reached record highs over the last few years. How is it then that a 2.3 percent federal excise tax as part of the Affordable Care Act stands to devastate medical device manufacturers?

AL CLELAND, MOUNDS VIEW

* * *

VETERANS

Death count doesn't end on the battlefield

 

Mark Brunswick shares the hard truth of military suicide in the United States: not 18, as previously calculated, but 22 per day ("22 vets commit suicide each day," Feb. 6). And that has me recalculating the other harsh numbers of war.

If a driver or passenger is seriously injured on a U.S. roadway and dies days later in hospital, it is officially counted as a road fatality. But if an Iraq war veteran -- emotionally damaged in a combat zone -- commits suicide weeks, months or years later, the official count of U.S. military dead remains at 4,486.

Soldier suicides deserve front-and-center attention as the most grim, ongoing and powerful deterrent to future war. In newspapers and on all electronic devices, Americans need to see the rising death toll: suicides from the Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan since 2007 that have accelerated the costs of these two wars to more than 30,000 American dead.

That publicity must extend even further. We must not see an end to the inscriptions placed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, honoring our fallen -- and yet to fall -- suicidal dead.

STEVE WATSON, MINNEAPOLIS

* * *

COLD-WEATHER STATE

You know, sometimes we still need a jump

 

There it was, the sad "click, click, click" a car makes when its battery is dead.

With a full tank of gas, I was glad my car died at the gas station. Help would be quick. The station would have jumper cables. Nope, no jumper cables inside the station. Really? Really? A gas station, in Minnesota, without jumper cables?

Outside, I asked if anyone had jumper cables. The answer was no. This is winter in Minnesota, land of 10,000 frozen lakes.

Remember when you'd see a car with its hood up, the family bundled inside, and the cold driver snapping on the cables, making sure the positive and negatives were connected right?

"What happened to jumper cables?" I thought again, while bundled up in front seat of the warm AAA tow truck.

ELIZABETH O'HARA, APPLE VALLEY

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