Re "Smart Tax Laws Would Put More Money in California's Pocket," Commentary, Dec. 2: On the surface, Kirk Stark, UCLA professor of tax law, seems to promote a good idea: raise federally tax-deductible state taxes to lower the amount of California dollars making a trip to Washington. Kill the sales tax and raise the car tax, stick it to "the rich" (whoever they are) with higher state income and property taxes and all will be fixed. Only problem is, the state will still be getting back only 77 cents of each dollar that goes back East. That is what needs to be fixed. California has too long subsidized other areas of the country with little concern for the expenses incurred here from federal mandates and lapses.
Stark points out that there are smarter ways to tax Californians that would save us money vis-a-vis the federal government. But there are also smarter ways to tax people that save money, period. By shifting -- but not raising -- taxes away from income, business and sales taxes (which hurt the economy, the poor and small-business owners and make people hate the government) to behaviors that cost the state money, the government can have its cake and eat it too. Government will take in the same tax dollars, but its costs will be significantly lower.