What the Heck is a “Broad-Based Tax”?

Last week Matt Brouillette called out Senate Republicans for moving toward a budget deal with higher taxes, backing off their line in the sand; Lowman Henry echoed that sentiment.

Lieutenant Governor and Senate Republican leader Joe Scarnati issued a statement on the Pennsylvania state budget deal in which he declares victory for meeting their goals, including that the budget has no “broad based taxes” and “will not impose higher taxes and spending on hard-working Pennsylvanians”.

Unfortunately, good tax policy would be to implement taxes that are “broad-based” rather than target narrow segments of taxpayers for higher rates (or for tax credits).

Furthermore, they will be plenty of “hard-working Pennsylvanians” paying higher taxes (Tony Phyrillas has a rundown here):

  • If you attend ballet, theater, concerts, museums, and the like, you will now pay 6% more for admission, due to an expansion of the state sales tax.
  • If you buy goods manufactured in Pennsylvania, you will likely pay higher prices, due the increase in the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax.
  • If you smoke cigarettes or small cigars, you will see a tax hike. Smokers are certainly a small proportion of the population, but also a group with generally lower incomes.
  • If you plan on playing table games at Pennsylvania’s casinos, the state will take a share of your losings.
  • If you play bingo at your church or fire hall, you will pay for that with higher taxes.

Call me crazy, but that seems like a lot of Pennsylvanians will be paying higher taxes. It makes me question what the heck Sen. Scarnati thinks a “broad-based” tax is?