Lee describes how sales taxes tend to be regressive:
“Knowing whether a tax is progressive, proportional, or regressive involves knowing more than just the tax rate. For example, a flat sales tax on purchases seems to treat all taxpayers equally, but it is often actually regressive in that low-income families may spend a greater portion of their incomes on taxed items that wealthier families do.”
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He also notes, that property taxes can also be seen as regressive because “higher income taxpayers tend to have a larger proportion of their wealth in assets that are not subject to property tax.” Also, landlords may also pass on property taxes to tenants via higher rents.
As we discussed in a previous class, for many years a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax has been used to fund major infrastructure projects in Chatham County, which has helped local governments avoid major increases in property taxes. Votes in Chatham County have also passed ESPLOST taxes to pay for school buildings and other school system needs, and a TSPOST devoted to transportation projects, though the most recent TSPLOST was voted down at the polls.
If we accept Lee’s assertion that both sales and property taxes are regressive, which is more regressive? Which is the more equitable way to produce revenue? Are there better, fairer options? Please cite sources to support your answers.