Arizona Is Only Hurting Itself With High Income Taxes. Why A Flat Rate Is Smarter

Arizona Is Only Hurting Itself With High Income Taxes. Why A Flat Rate Is Smarter

By Grover Norquist |

Arizona’s income tax – with a top rate of 8% – is not competitive. Reducing and eventually eliminating the state income tax would be a huge win for all Arizonans.

Individual taxpayers and families would be able to keep more of their hard-earned paychecks. Small businesses would be able to invest more in their employees. And Arizona would be much more attractive to businesses and investment, bringing new jobs and opportunities to the state.

Over the last decade, millions of people and jobs have been fleeing from high-tax states to states that do not impose income taxes. The ability to work remotely will only amplify this trend.

Unfortunately, Arizona’s current income tax puts it on the wrong side of this equation.

Arizona is a high tax state and slipping further

Under the status quo, Arizona’s income tax – with a top rate of 8% – is not competitive. Eight states – including Arizona’s neighbor Nevada and nearby Texas – do not impose individual income taxes of any kind. Thirty-two more states – count Arizona’s neighbors Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, among them – have top rates that are lower than Arizona’s.

Even worse for Arizona, the list of states that do not impose income taxes will continue to grow. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, and Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin are among several key lawmakers that are working to eliminate income taxes in their states.

Unless Arizona begins reducing and phasing out its income tax, it will continue to fall behind.

The good news is Arizona’s leaders refuse to sit back and allow it to fail. Gov. Doug Ducey, Sen. J.D. Mesnard, President Pro Tem Vince Leach, Majority Leader Ben Toma and many others are eager to provide pro-growth income tax relief.

A flat tax is a much better way to go

They are working on a tax plan that would streamline Arizona’s current four-bracket system (five brackets when accounting for the Proposition 208 “surcharge” of 3.5% that will be imposed on certain income, resulting in top rate of 8%) down to a flat tax of 2.5%.

That would be lower than its current bottom rate of 2.59% (with adjustments being made to ensure that even with the Proposition 208 “surcharge,” which would effectively create two brackets, the top rate would not be higher than 4.5%).

Flat taxes protect all taxpayers from tax increases. Under a progressive income tax, taxpayers are divided into small groups, allowing politicians to rob them one by one. Raising a flat tax, on the other hand, is much more difficult because politicians are forced to answer to every single income tax filer.

Making this news even better, there is a serious effort to include a full phase-out of the income tax (excluding the Proposition 208 “surcharge”) over time through the use of revenue triggers, a responsible way for states to cut taxes without getting ahead of their ski tips.

It could bring new jobs, higher wages

If such a provision were included, Arizona would be a model for other states to copy.

In addition to reducing income tax rates, the Republican tax plan would provide even more income tax relief by quadrupling the child tax credit and by coupling the standard deduction to inflation.

The Republican tax plan would be a huge victory for every single Arizonan. Reducing and, ideally, eliminating the income tax would attract businesses looking to expand, investors looking for growing economies with hospitable tax climates and families looking for greater prosperity.

This would bring new jobs and opportunities to current Arizona residents.

Income tax relief would also allow small businesses, which overwhelmingly pay their income taxes on the personal side of the code, to invest in higher wages, and would allow the hardworking people of Arizona to keep more of their paychecks.

Arizona’s future will be brighter if it begins reducing and eliminating the state income tax.

Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform, a nonprofit taxpayer advocacy organization that was founded at the request of President Ronald Reagan. Reach him at gnorquist@atr.org.

Covid Liability Bill Wins Bipartisan Support, Heads To House

Covid Liability Bill Wins Bipartisan Support, Heads To House

On Wednesday, the Arizona Senate passed SB 1377 in a bipartisan vote, a bill that offers protection from litigation for businesses and others who act in “good faith” to implement reasonable policies to protect their customers, clients, and patients.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Vince Leach, is considered “a critical piece of legislation” by large and small business organizations, who hope to open fully now that important COVID-19 metrics have dropped dramatically in the state.

Specifically, SB 1377 establishes “civil liability standards for specified acts or omissions during a state of emergency for a public health pandemic.” The standards would be established retroactively to March 11, 2020. March 11, 2020 is the date Gov. Doug Ducey declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19.

“Small business owners were crushed by the pandemic lockdown, and now face the prospect of enduring years of frivolous litigation by trial lawyers looking to cash in by blaming the spread of Covid on employers,” said Scot Mussi, President of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club. “SB 1377 would provide much needed legal protection to small business owners so that they are not sued for simply trying to stay open during the current crisis.”

The sponsor introduced the bill to ensure a presumption that any person or “provider” acted in good faith to protect a customer, student, tenant, volunteer, patient, guest or neighbor, or the public from injury or loss through reasonable attempts to comply with rely on published guidance issued by a federal or state agency in connection to a public health pandemic.

Senate Bill 1377 Provisions:

Public Health Pandemic Civil Liability

1. Precludes from liability for damages, during a public health pandemic state of emergency declared by the Governor, a person or provider who acts in good faith to protect a customer, student, tenant, volunteer, patient, guest or neighbor, or the public (litigant), from injury from the public health pandemic for injury, death or loss to person or property that is based on a claim that the person or provider failed to protect the litigant from the effects of the public health pandemic, unless it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the person or provider failed to act or acted and the failure to act or action was due to that person’s or provider’s willful misconduct or gross negligence.

2. Establishes a presumption that a person or provider acted in good faith if the person or provider adopted and implemented reasonable policies related to the public health pandemic.

3. Applies the standard for liability to all claims that are filed before or after the general effective date for an act or omission by a person or provider that occurred after March 11, 2020, and that relates to a public health pandemic that is the subject of the state of emergency declared by the Governor.

4. Exempts claims for workers compensation from the outlined liability standard.

5. Defines provider as:

a) a person who furnishes consumer or business goods or services or entertainment;
b) an educational institution or district;
c) a school district or charter school;
d) a property owner, property manager or property lessor or lessee;
e) a nonprofit organization;
f) a religious institution;
g) the state or a state agency or instrumentality;
h) a local government or political subdivision, including a department, agency or commission of a local government or political subdivision;
i) a service provider;
j) a health professional; or
k) a health care institution.

Health Professionals and Health Care Institutions

6. Precludes from liability for damages, during a public health pandemic state of emergency declared by the Governor, a health professional (professional) or health care institution (institution) that acts in good faith in any civil action for an injury or death that is alleged to be directly or indirectly the professional’s or institution’s action or omission while providing health care services in support of the state’s response to the state of emergency, unless it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the professional or institution failed to act or acted and the failure to act or action was due to that professional’s or institution’s willful misconduct or gross negligence.

7. Applies the outlined limited liability to any action or omission that occurs:

a) during a person’s screening, assessment, diagnosis or treatment and that is related to the public health pandemic that is the subject of the state of emergency; or

b) in the course of providing a person with health care services and that is unrelated to the public health pandemic that is the subject of the state of emergency if the professional’s or institution’s action or omission was in good faith support of the state’s response to the state of emergency, including:

i. delaying or canceling a procedure that the professional determined in good faith was a nonurgent or elective dental, medical or surgical procedure;

ii. providing nursing care or procedures;

iii. altering a person’s diagnosis or treatment in response to an order, directive or guideline that is issued by the federal government, the state or a local government; or

iv. an act or omission undertaken by a professional or institution because of a lack of staffing, facilities, equipment, supplies or other resources that are attributable to the state of emergency and that render the professional or institution unable to provide the level or manner of care to a person that otherwise would have been required in the absence of the state of emergency.

8. Establishes a presumption that a professional or institution acted in good faith if the professional or institution relied on and reasonably attempted to comply with applicable published guidance relating to the public health pandemic that was issued by a federal or state agency.

9. Allows a party to introduce any other evidence that proves the professional or institution acted in good faith.

10. Applies the standard for liability to all claims that are filed before or after the general effective date for an act or omission by a person or provider that occurred after March 11, 2020, and that relates to a public health pandemic that is the subject of the state of emergency declared by the Governor.

11. Exempts claims for workers compensation from the outlined liability standard.

Under the legislation, a provider is defined as a person who furnishes consumer or business goods or services or entertainment, as well as an educational institution or district, school district or charter school, property owner, property manager or property lessor or lessee, a nonprofit organization, a religious institution, a state or a state agency or instrumentality, a local government or political subdivision (including a department, agency or commission), a service provider, a health professional, or a health care institution.

Anyone wishing to claim an “injury, death or loss to person or property” based on a failure to protect the litigant from the effects of the public health pandemic must be able to show the person or provider acted with “willful misconduct or gross negligence.” The liability protection also includes inactions which are alleged to have caused harm.