In California, the tax system is funded primarily through property tax, sales tax, income tax, the lottery and a few other taxes. The taxes fund education in the state to provide for every child. “We ought to finance the education of every child in America equitably with adjustments made only for the greater or lesser needs of certain children. And the funding should all come from the collective wealth of our society” (Brimely, Verstegen, & Garfield, 2016, p.52). In the United States, most public education is funded through taxes. “Economists have emphasized the value of education as a factor in stimulating economic growth” (Brimley, Verstegen, & Garfield, 2016, p.2).
The key driver in creating equity in schools has been based on the statement that “education is an investment in human capital” (Concordia University, n.d.). As we look at different taxes for education we will analyze them based on five criteria: economical to collect, stable, fair and equitable, easy to estimate, difficult to evade. “A child’s education must not be affected by a wealth of his or her parents or neighbors, except by the wealth of the state as a whole” (Brimely, Vesrstegen, & Garfield, 2016, p.53).
Property taxes are not economical to collect, due to the rapid changes in property values. The stability of property taxes varies depending on the housing market and if people are living in their homes. For example during the recession that occurred in 2007, many homes in certain areas went unoccupied which meant no property tax was being paid. Brimely, Vesrstegen, & Garfield (2016), use the term regressive to refer to how property taxes are not fair and equitable. Due to certain laws like Prop 13, neighboring homeowners can own homes of the same value but pay a significant difference in taxes. In addition to the props, people who are homeowners pay the tax and people who are not homeowners do not have to pay the tax. The tax is not difficult to evade because you can lose your home if not paid but I feel that it is avoidable by not owning property. I rank property tax first because it raises the most amount of money through taxes for education. I feel there is a good amount of money to be collected but do not think it is as fair and equitable as other taxes.
Sales taxes are economical to collect because most items sold are taxed, but the responsibility of the tax falls on the merchant to collect and pay. Sales taxes are not quite stable due to changes in the economy. In a good economy consumers will spend more money, but in a down economy, consumers will spend less which means fewer taxes to collect. The tax is a fair tax and is equitable because it is a percentage of the value of the item and is only collected when purchasing an item. The tax is also easy to estimate due to it being a simple percentage value. The tax is one that is difficult to evade because most items merchants sell are required to be taxed. You can only evade them by purchasing using cash through unethical shop owners. I rank sales taxes second because I feel that there is a lot of tax to be collected here and that is it more fair and equitable.
Income tax is economical to collect because it is “usually a progressive tax levied on the income a person received during the period of one year” (Brimely, Vesrstegen, & Garfield, 2016, p.127). Income taxes are stable but can decrease when there is an unemployment rate. The taxes are fair and equitable because they are based on your overall income and are progressive, taxing you a percentage of your income based on which bracket you fall within on total income. The taxes are not easy to estimate because there is a lot of variables that determine your taxable income. This is why there are so many people that do taxes. I think they are moderately difficult to evade. While I have, not completed my taxes on time, I know of many people that have not filed taxes in many years. I rank income taxes third because I feel that there is a lot of tax to be collected here, it is fair and equitable, and I feel that it does not overburden each taxpayer because it is based on wealth. Income taxes also serve as an indicator of the “potential of a school district to raise funds” (Brimely, Vesrstegen, & Garfield, 2016, p.67).
The lottery is economical to collect because as Thomas Jefferson calls it, it is a “wonderful thing, it lays taxation only on the willing” (Brimely, Vesrstegen, & Garfield, 2016, p.146). The lottery is a tax that may not be stable because it is spent using excess monies people have. I do believe that it is fair and equitable because it is only taxing the people that purchase it. I think the tax is easy to evade by not participating in the lottery, which makes it a tax that is not easy to estimate because many there are many factors to consider. I rank the lottery fourth because I feel that there it is a tax that is regressive and one that I do not feel should be a priority due to moral concerns with gambling (Brimely, Vesrstegen, & Garfield, 2016).
Sumptuary tax or an excise tax is collected on items that are deemed to not be in the public interest. We are encouraged to stop using sumptuary taxed items like tobacco and alcohol. The tax is one that is economical to collect because it does not overburden the taxpayer. The tax is one that I do not think is stable because a lot of the money used goes to funding education to prevent its use such as tobacco. The tax is fair and equitable but can be easy to evade if you do not use the products. Because the tax is based on consumers purchasing a product that is deemed not good to the public I feel as if it is difficult to estimate or rely upon as a tax source. I rank sumptuary taxes last because I feel that items that are typically taxed in this criteria are items that we want to stop and an item that we should not rely on for a reliable tax source for funding education (Brimely, Vesrstegen, & Garfield, 2016).