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Mayors' Committee Asks Congress to Retain Sales Tax Deductibility

June 16, 1986|Associated Press

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A U.S. Conference of Mayors committee on Sunday urged Congress to retain the deductibility of local sales taxes and called for a constitutional amendment to protect local revenue sources.

"It's extremely unfair to single out the sales tax, which is very important to some cities and states," said Richard Berkley, Republican mayor of Kansas City, Mo., whose resolution is aimed at the income tax overhaul bill before the Senate.

The resolutions committee also endorsed revision of the income tax as a way to reduce the federal deficit, but it backed away from a Berkley proposal that Congress also be urged to raise tax rates, if necessary, to reduce the deficit.

The committee passed 70 resolutions and sent them to the full gathering of more than 150 mayors from across the nation. The entire group will vote Wednesday on the motions, which also propose a crackdown on plastic handguns that can elude detection in airport security and support additional federal aid to the homeless and hungry.

The Senate's tax revision bill would keep the federal deduction for all state and local taxes except sales taxes. Local officials say that deduction is crucial, in order to keep residents willing to pay sales taxes and perhaps increase their local revenues.

While municipal leaders have voiced optimism that the sales tax deduction can be restored in the House-Senate conference committee, backers of the resolution said the issue of deductibility was so fundamental that they wanted to make a strong statement that the issue was not negotiable.

And, they said, if the deduction for one local tax is wiped away, other local taxes--such as those on property--could be next.

"We're talking about the protection of revenue sources states and local communities depend on to make their taxes equitable," said Mayor Roland Luetdke of Lincoln, Neb. "Probably the only way to protect it is putting it in the Constitution and saying, 'This is untouchable.' Otherwise, they're going to play politics with it."

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