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Split Rate is Unfair

A candidate for East Longmeadow selectman is running on the platform of converting East Longmeadow s tax system from a single rate for homes and businesses to a split rate, where different tax rates can be assigned to each group. It is presented with a populist appeal as an opportunity for tax relief to homeowners. This is a very dangerous idea for several reasons. First, a split rate invites shifting the tax burden from homeowners to business. Town residents who do not understand that many local businesses are barely profitable, will continually push to tax businesses just a little more until the businesses begin to close or move out of town. These folks will be the first ones to complain that the local business prices went up, and they ll go shop outside our community. New plants will think twice about moving into our industrial park. Second, a split rate encourages the town government to raise taxes more than they otherwise would. Got a great idea that the town could spend money on? Just bring it to the Town Meeting, and tell the residents that the plan is to tax the businesses for it! Third, the split rate is inherently unfair, because there is no general agreement on what a fair split would be. If it s somehow fair to tax businesses more, then how much more? The focus on the size of the tax burden is lost, and the emphasis moves to endless negotiations over which group should pay. All the while, spending goes up and up, and taxes follow. I urge all registered East Longmeadow voters to educate themselves on this issue, and reject candidates who support this dangerous idea on April 14. Pat Henry East Longmeadow
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