2020 gubernatorial dossier: Taxation

This is the seventh part of a series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 Delaware gubernatorial election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, taxation is worth 13 points. These will once again be presented in a randomized order.

As I am starting off with the Republican contenders, one would imagine they are in favor of lowering taxes. But surprisingly not all have brought up the issue, and they are addressing several ways to lower the burden.

I suspect this will be one of the more actively updated posts as time goes on.

David Graham: The lack of specifics to Graham’s platform extends to this topic.

David Bosco: I pointed out yesterday that Bosco is only willing to use tax breaks as a draw for business under restrictive stipulations, so that leads me to believe we may have a governor who doesn’t mind using tax code to shape behavior. That’s bad news, and I hope my assertion is incorrect.

But he does like to point out that Delaware doesn’t have a revenue problem, but a spending problem.

Scott Walker: By going to all online schools, Walker is vowing to cut property taxes in half. That’s all well and good, but first of all schools aren’t going all online anytime soon and secondly, we also have to worry about the push to update assessments via the courts, which would likely wipe out any gains from Walker’s idea.

Colin Bonini: While he’s terribly less than specific about details, he notes, “Remember earlier this year when Democrats wanted a statewide property tax? Colin Bonini… has a history of fighting new taxes, no matter how they are disguised.” I’ve already brought up two issues he really should address to win my vote.

Julianne Murray: Unlike her entire bill of rights devoted to small business, Murray has platitude-speak down when she says she will, “Cut taxes and regulations. Nothing hurts job growth like higher taxes and endless regulations. As our next Governor, Julianne Murray will lower the tax burden and streamline regulations to encourage entrepreneurship.” Well, you can’t lower the sales tax but I’ll bet there are some business taxes they’d like repealed.

Bryant Richardson: Bryant has sort of a generic promise to keep taxes low, and surprisingly he did not make this subject part of his Contract for a New Delaware. I’m sure he has thoughts on the subjects I’ve brought up as well as others I’m getting to.

One measuring stick I use to compare tax burden between states comes from the Tax Foundation, which annually ranks the states on how much of a toll they take from the general public. Delaware just misses the top 10 overall, but it is a schizophrenic ranking because it rates high in some categories (led by the lack of a sales tax and low property taxes) but scrapes the bottom in two key measures: individual income tax and corporate tax, where it ranks dead last at #50. So those two categories need reform, keeping in mind the ideals of a fairer, flatter tax system that’s not used to reward or punish behavior or property ownership.

Address these and it goes a long way in securing my endorsement. My final two categories await, with the role of government as I perceive each candidate adopting it coming up next.

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