John Ciavarella: A proposal for tax fairness in Northampton: Invite the wealthy to pay more
To the editor:
I propose a Community Tax Fairness Pledge.
During the override battle, the Yes!Northampton supporters claimed to have fought for a progressive state and local tax system, all to no avail. The regressive property tax override, they say, was the only way for us to pay for our services.
But why do we have to wait for the state to act?
We can help solve this unfair taxation problem ourselves right now if they themselves pledge to pay a fairer percentage of their income in taxes as they say they are lobbying the state to do.
I propose, as a start, that the top 10 percent of wage earners in Northampton voluntarily sign a Community Tax Fairness Pledge. By signing the pledge, they agree that those with the highest-valued properties and income should pay at least the same rate in city taxes that those in the median income brackets pay as a proportion of their after-tax income.
Signers could calculate the amount they would owe and send the difference in a gift to the city.
Not only would this solution help us avoid future bruising override fights, it would correct the most glaring unfairness in our local tax system: the fact that many of the richest people in Northampton pay significantly less of their disposable income (as a percentage) in property taxes than the lowest-wage earners, many of whom are struggling seniors and working families.
Again, the pledge would be voluntary and give wealthy taxpayers, including Yes!Northampton supporters, the opportunity to show they value tax progressivity in the city and paying one’s fair share.