Mark Hellman | Indy Week

Mark Hellman 
Member since Oct 18, 2008


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Re: “June 17 crossword solution

In the 6-17-15 crossword puzzle, "Shrewd person" is a terrible clue for HARDHEAD. "Stubborn person" would be more fair.

Posted by Mark Hellman on 06/20/2015 at 4:10 PM

Re: “Durham prepared foods tax

Correction: Ave. income of Top 1% in N.C. is $970,000, not a mere $907,000. Sorry about that.

Posted by Mark Hellman on 10/18/2008 at 3:22 PM

Re: “Durham prepared foods tax

Both proponents and opponents have to rely on the latest Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, because it's the only source of data on "food away from home" for different income groups. That survey reported:
Lowest 20%---5.2% of income on food away from home
Next 20%-----5.5%
Middle 20%---5.8%
Next 20%-----5.9%
Highest 20%--5.4%

Proponents read this as non-regressive because the Top 20% would pay more than the Lowest 20%. I read it as regressive toward the middle 60% (in N.C. $15,000 to $73,000 annual household income). Regressivity isn't just Top 20% vs. Lowest 20%. The near-poor and mid-middle count too.

Also, the Top 20% is the most varied quintile, ranging in N.C. from $73,000 households to billionaires Jim Goodnight and C. D. Spangler. The 5.4% that the Highest 20% spends on prepared food is an amalgam of upper-middle class families spending, say, 5.8% and Top 1% families (ave. income $907,000) spending probably 2.5-3.0%. If that seems reasonable, then this tax is regressive toward everyone from the perspective of the Top 1% and probably the Top 5%.

I recommend "Who Pays Taxes in North Carolina?" from the NC Budget & Tax Center for the larger tax context we all operate in: http://www.ncjustice.org/assets/library/1160_btcwhopaysreportmar42008.pdf Any additional tax is bad for the poor. A prepared food tax is more regressive for the middle, especially those with children, than the property tax. It's also not deductible on income tax returns.

Posted by Mark Hellman on 10/18/2008 at 3:16 PM

Re: “Durham Committee nixes meals tax

Here's what I just posted at the old story on PA's endorsement of the Prepared Food Tax: I’m a dissenting member of People’s Alliance on this issue. The larger context for this proposal to increase the tax on prepared food by 1% ( from 6.75% to 7.75%) is the regressive structure of state and local taxation in North Carolina. According to a recent report by the respected NC Budget and Tax Center titled “Who Pays Taxes in North Carolina?”, these are the percentages of income that the different income levels in N.C. pay ( average income of households in parentheses): Lowest 20%–10.7% of income for state & local taxes ($10,000) Next 20%—–9.7% ($21,000) Middle 20%—9.6% ($35,000) Next 20%—–9.0% $56,000) Next 15%—–8.2% ($97,000) Next 4%——7.6% } Top 20% as a group average ($207,000) 8.0% for state & local taxes Top 1%——-7.1% ($970,000) (Here’s a link to the full 9-page report: http://www.ncjustice.org/assets/library/1160_btcwhopaysreportmar42008.pdf) Given U.S. Census data on how much each group spends on prepared food (see Frank’s comment), the new tax will increase the tax burden on the middle 60% of Durhamites more than on the Top 20% or the Lowest 20%. I think we can agree that the Lowest 20% of income earners doesn’t need another dollar of tax burden. As a share of income, they’re already paying half again as much as the Top 1%. As a founding member of PA, I regret that I missed the endorsement meeting. Over the decades, I have voted the PA endorsements down the line with only a few exceptions, which I kept to myself. I have no interest in belonging to a group that can’t deliver. But not increasing the regressivity of state and local taxation and eventually reversing that regressivity has been such a core goal of PA historically that I have to vote No this time and urge other progressives to do the same. The latter is a first.

Posted by Mark on 10/12/2008 at 8:57 AM

Re: “Durham People's Alliance endorses meals tax

I'm a dissenting member of People's Alliance on this issue. The larger context for this proposal to increase the tax on prepared food by 1% ( from 6.75% to 7.75%) is the regressive structure of state and local taxation in North Carolina. According to a recent report by the respected NC Budget and Tax Center titled "Who Pays Taxes in North Carolina?", these are the percentages of income that the different income levels in N.C. pay ( average income of households in parentheses): Lowest 20%--10.7% of income for state & local taxes ($10,000) Next 20%-----9.7% ($21,000) Middle 20%---9.6% ($35,000) Next 20%-----9.0% $56,000) Next 15%-----8.2% ($97,000) Next 4%------7.6% } Top 20% as a group average ($207,000) 8.0% for state & local taxes Top 1%-------7.1% ($970,000) (Here's a link to the full 9-page report: http://www.ncjustice.org/assets/library/1160_btcwhopaysreportmar42008.pdf) Given U.S. Census data on how much each group spends on prepared food (see Frank's comment), the new tax will increase the tax burden on the middle 60% of Durhamites more than on the Top 20% or the Lowest 20%. I think we can agree that the Lowest 20% of income earners doesn't need another dollar of tax burden. As a share of income, they're already paying half again as much as the Top 1%. As a founding member of PA, I regret that I missed the endorsement meeting. Over the decades, I have voted the PA endorsements down the line with only a few exceptions, which I kept to myself. I have no interest in belonging to a group that can't deliver. But not increasing the regressivity of state and local taxation and eventually reversing that regressivity has been such a core goal of PA historically that I have to vote No this time and urge other progressives to do the same. The latter is a first.

Posted by Mark on 10/12/2008 at 8:48 AM

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