Monday, August 07, 2006

Good Writing

David Brunori writes a column, The Politics of State Taxation, for TaxAnalysts. His most recent column has great commentary on the Maryland Wal-Mart bill, the BAT nexus tax legislation, the proposal in Ohio to cut state capital gains taxes, and various state proposals to tax rental cars.

The column has a "Quote of the Week" feature, but for my money the best quote is Brunori's:
As reported in several major newspapers, a study has found that people will try to avoid taxes on rental cars. Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the nation's second-largest rental-car company, commissioned two well-known scholars to study the effects of taxes on the business. Bill Gale of the Brookings Institution and Kim Rueben of the Urban Institute looked at local car rental taxes across the United States.

Gale and Rueben found that many renters went out of their way to rent cars in jurisdictions with lower or no car rental taxes. I could have told Enterprise that and saved it whatever it paid Gale and Rueben. Eighty local governments in 38 states have car rental taxes. Politicians like the tax because they think it will be exported to nonresident visitors. But half of all car rentals are by people who live in or near the jurisdiction. As Gale and Rueben found, those people will shop around and avoid the tax. Local governments can't effectively or efficiently tax mobile tax bases. This study is just one more piece of evidence.

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