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Eliot Seide’s Foolish Take on High Minnesota Taxes

I give Eliot Seide, Minnesota’s leading public employee union boss, credit for his clever Star Tribune column (“OK, it’s a drag, but think what your taxes do”) that painted all the joys of paying high Minnesota taxes on the eve of tax day.  Those foolish Tea Party protesters should be grateful for the opportunity, otherwise imagine the horrors of living without clean water, indoor plumbing, highway lines and lights, the sense of community provided by public transit, teachers, bus drivers, lunchroom staff, librarians, state parks, walleye-stocked lakes, a safety net for the less fortunate, and Meals on Wheels.

The logic of Seide’s op-ed suggests there is no legitimate reason to ever be concerned about high taxes, bloated bureaucracy, over regulation, or out of control government.  Doesn’t he recognize that Minnesota already has one of the highest tax burdens in the country and the Tax Foundation ranks us 5th worst in business tax climate?  How does he think the 45 or so lower tax states below us can possibly manage to provide their citizens with those same benefits at an even lower cost?

The Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence just released a study that now “awards” us with “the most progressive income tax system in the nation.”  Already known is that Minnesota owns the third-highest top income tax bracket in the country.  But our tax burden isn’t just heavy on “the rich,” it is heavy on everyone as Minnesota’s lowest income tax bracket (5.35%) is higher than the highest tax bracket of almost half the nation (23 states!).

And last year’s American Experiment study, Minnesotans on the Move to Lower Tax States 2016, showed that Minnesota suffers a net loss of taxpayers to lower-tax states in every household income category over $25,000 per year.

State taxes matter, and high Minnesota taxes do much more harm than good.  Wouldn’t it be refreshing if Mr. Seide converted from being an evangelist for a high tax state to working so that his middle-class union members could keep more of their earnings, Minnesota could keep more of our workers, and our state could enjoy a much better business and jobs climate?

Peter Zeller is Director of Operations at Center of the American Experiment.

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