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Income tax not necessary

As Massachusetts citizens we've tightened our budgets and altered our lifestyles to adjust to every rising cost: we've cut back on family vacations and going out to eat; we're planning our trips for errands and recreation more carefully to avoid using too much gas; we're barely saving for retirement so we can pay our mortgage or rent. We have to make these cuts because the mere cost of functioning day-to-day is skyrocketing. These rising costs are impacting businesses as well. Companies are cutting expenses and scaling back capital improvements; some companies are slashing hours and laying workers off.

Of course, this is Massachusetts, and one would be na ve to think our elected officials are even remotely aware of the financial struggles we face in the private sector. The legislators on Beacon Hill just passed a 5.2% increase in the annual budget for the Commonwealth and with it they did what they do best: raise taxes, this time on the poor and on businesses. Again, this is Massachusetts nobody can honestly claim to be surprised by this behavior. We pay taxes on almost every type of transaction: sales taxes, excise taxes, estate taxes, capital gains taxes, cigarette taxes, wine and liquor taxes, hotel taxes, property taxes, personal income taxes and more. I could fill a phonebook with a list of every fee and tax in the Commonwealth.

The income tax is the most confiscatory of taxes levied by the Commonwealth because it automatically deducts 5.3% from your paycheck. You have no choice in this matter. If you do not surrender a portion of your earnings to the government they will treat you the same way a loan shark would if you were late on a payment. It is a time-consuming nuisance as much as it is a financial one because of all the paperwork required, especially if you donate to charity.

That leviathan nuisance may go the way of the dodo bird this fall because a group of concerned taxpayers, the Committee for Small Government, placed a question on the ballot this November asking voters to repeal the state income tax. This has prompted a cacophony from the special interest groups, most notably teachers unions and municipal unions. These are the same people who have proclaimed that the state is mired in a fiscal crisis year after year and any cut in revenues or spending would cause the sun to stop rising. "It is no exaggeration when I say city life as we know it would cease to exist," said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.

These exclamations of catastrophe are nothing more than exaggerations. Crime will not run rampant in the streets, bridges will not collapse, and schools will not close. Elected officials are the only ones who will panic because they will have to choose between their constituents or the public employee unions they are beholden to.

Do our elected officials stop paying public employees 15% more than their private sector counterparts? Do they stop signing bloated public employee union contracts saturated with benefits that make the average civilian drool? Do they provide instant financial relief to every citizen and jumpstart the economy? Or do they cave to union pressure just like they did with police details? Do they return, on average, $3,600 to every taxpayer in the Commonwealth?

Ignore the desperate pleas of the greedy special interests that are the public employees unions and career politicians. They will use scare tactics that would make the Bush Administration proud. When the initiative passes this November every taxpayer wins because they will receive an increase in their pay and their elected officials will have to be frugal with their spending habits just like the rest of us.

Garrett M. Quinn, Jr.

West Springfield