Letters to the Editor

Letter: Tax arguments

Recently, Anchorage passed a new tax on alcohol. Is this the only direction the city could find to raise new revenue? Alaska’s above-average alcohol tax of $12.80 per gallon just wasn’t enough. Anchorage had to vote for a 5% sales tax. This is a tax on a tax on a tax, including the federal government’s take. The “T” word must be so toxic to Alaskans that to be acceptable, a vice is needed to sell it. I urge everyone to take a closer look and come up with informed ideas.

In Anchorage, the property mill rate is higher than many communities in the country. Outside of population centers, most Alaskans pay little to nothing for any service provided by the state or local government. Still, the arguments about any tax being an onus too much to bear and an impediment to our progress come up often often in conversation.  

I lived in New York City for a few years, and experienced the cost of cohabitation with more than 7 million human beings. It was expensive, yet I thrived. I paid city and state taxes and was taxed every time I made a purchase. A large portion of my income was devoted to paying for society and transportation. The weight of these charges seemed heavy at the time, but when I returned home to Alaska, I was wealthier than when I left.

Many times, I have heard the mantra, “no new taxes.” Rarely has anyone spoken about the appropriate amount we should be burdened with to maintain the infrastructure and services civilization requires.  

Alaska eliminated the personal income tax in 1980, and most Alaskans today pay very little for functions only our state can provide. I have long believed this was Gov. Jay Hammonds biggest mistake. When you and I don’t have a vested interest in how Alaska’s money is used, less scrutiny is given. What if it was only us paying the bills? Don’t you know many more citizens would make sure their hard-earned money was used wisely?

If there were a state income tax, many of us would know exactly what we get for our oil and how and where revenue from these taxes are spent. Renewed interest in government from Alaskans is needed now more than ever. Alaska’s taxes are not esoteric, but they do require our attention, to make sure we get our fair share and that our money is being used properly. I believe all of us must carry our own weight. This is the least we can do. Giving more is so much better.

— William Beltz


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