As are a lot of states, actually. Kevin Drum links to a ranking of the progressivity of states’ tax systems. We’re not very good.
This is dumb. And wrong. As we know, in Massachusetts a progressive income tax is in fact prohibited by our constitution, although there may be some loopholes/workarounds to that.
A progressive income tax has been on the BMG agenda for years now. It would minimize the pain caused by revenue increases needed to stabilize the MBTA, for instance. In other words, a gas tax hike causes more actual quality-of-life-changing deprivation than would a slight progressive income tax tweak.
Conservatives frame progressive taxation as “punishing success” or “class warfare”. That’s silly, and a red herring, in that it proposes an “evil” intent behind the idea of progressive taxation — without actually demonstrating how it would be bad. Progressive taxation makes necessary public investments possible, while minimizing the actual human cost of raising the money. I strongly suspect that much anti-tax feeling among the non-rich is precisely the result of regressive taxation.
These public investments — infrastructure, education, health, justice — make broad-based prosperity possible, just as they also enable and make possible enormous private prosperity. If you’re going to get rich selling stuff, you need someone with the means to buy it.
We tax in a dumb way which causes more pain than it should. We should stop doing that.