Patrick Ishmael

Yael Abouhalkah of the Kansas City Star blogs today in defense of the earnings tax and against my call to curb cronyism in Kansas City. The Star's position in favor of corporate welfare won't surprise our readers, since the newspaper has been a longtime beneficiary of the city's tax largesse and frequent interlocutor for City Hall. Although it was disappointing, Yael's endorsement of the city's trickle-down development culture was expected—the latest in a long line of such columns.

But I was more disappointed that in his quest for an interesting headline, Yael again shuttled past a decade's worth of Show-Me research on the earnings tax. Rather than simply Google "Show Me Institute replace earnings tax," Yael chose to bowlderize a recent Show-Me blog post and ignore a host of detailed Show-Me reports published since the mid-2000s, showing how the earnings tax is destructive to growth and how it can be replaced. The newspaper didn't need a Woodward or Bernstein on staff to discover the research: just a passing familiarity with the Internet and glancing engagement with the earnings tax issue.

The research is there. It's been there for a long time.

Yet the argument against an earnings tax doesn't just spring forth from some economics lesson. That the Star doesn't find a city taxing the paychecks of the poor and subsidizing the rich a "compelling" reason to phase out the tax is its own commentary on the present state of the paper. I can accept that the Star has an entrenched and dire interest in maintaining the current taxing system, which at least explains the content and tenor of so many of the Star's editorials these days.

But I don't have to accept the self-serving cronyism that the Star would have us all perpetuate by keeping the earnings tax gravy train running. Neither does anyone else.

Kansas Citians deserve a serious discussion about the negative impact—on families, on businesses, and in the aggregate—of funding city government through an earnings tax. Fortunately for the city's taxpayers, the Star won't be mediating that debate. Not this time. Not anymore.

About the Author

Patrick Ishmael
Director of Government Accountability

Patrick Ishmael is the director of government accountability at the Show-Me Institute.