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Thread: Head Taxes

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Head Taxes

    No, I do not mean taxes on certain "recreational" activities.

    What kinds of experiences have you had with municipalities enacting a "head tax," or tax on employees working for businesses in the city? The usual argument is that these people use city services, but do not live in the city and do not pay its taxes. Opponents counter this by saying that the tax encourages businesses to move out of the city, causing both economic problems and sprawl.

    Has anyone here worked in a city with a head tax or followed the experiences of a city enacting one? What are the outcomes?
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian ludes98's avatar
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    When I saw the title, I thought you were talking about the turn of the century head tax the Canadians had for Chinese immigrants. Thankfully it isn't.

    I have no experience with it, but off the cuff I would have more questions than answers. Don't these employees pay county and state taxes that get filtered into the city coffers? Don't they pay taxes on goods and services purchased in the City during the course of a work week? What service cost is the city trying to recoup through this tax?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    A.K.A. municipal payroll taxes. . .

    Hi- I'm familiar with the tax but have never heard it called a head tax but rather a more generic 'municipal payroll tax'. . .I did a quick google search and found a relevant article about an attempt in Tenn.

    http://www.tennessean.com/government...59255620.shtml

    I also found an academic citation, but I think you would have to pay for it:
    The comparative incidence of local taxes: the payroll tax versus the property tax

    Carolyn Sherwood-Call
    Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 86-10 / Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
    (RePEc:fip:fedfap:86-10)
    Creation: 1986
    Keywords: Payroll tax ; Property tax ; Municipal finance
    Order-url: http://www.frbsf.org/popups/fiporder.html

  4. #4
          mentarman's avatar
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    We have that in St. Louis. Don't know much about it, but I'll post a link or some more info if I can find it.
    To answer a question above, in our case, the city is its own county, so most taxes paid by suburbanites in St. Louis County (or St. Charles and Jefferson counties) doesn't end up in the city. I think Baltimore is the only other city like this. Plus a decent percentage of our metro is in another state.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Check out Pittsburgh, PA. I know they had a city tax when I was there (although I was working under the table )
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

  6. #6

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    I would think that the sales tax generated by commuters who shop, dine, etc. in Boulder subsidizes residents, not the other way around.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Rumpy Tunanator
    Check out Pittsburgh, PA. I know they had a city tax when I was there (although I was working under the table )
    Most cities, and even now some of the suburban townships, impose an occupational privilege tax on workers. This is usually around $10 per year in most locals. However, I’ve heard that Philly’s is much higher and that ours is going up to $55 next year.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Rumpy Tunanator
    Check out Pittsburgh, PA. I know they had a city tax when I was there (although I was working under the table )

    I've heard of shared cubicles, but under a table? Time to expand!
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker
    I've heard of shared cubicles, but under a table? Time to expand!
    I think he meant to say drinking under the table.
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  10. #10
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    I think he meant to say drinking under the table.
    I was joking around with that reply, but in all seriousness, check around your city to see what the ladies of the night are charging per head, and add the state, local sales tax to that amount to get a figure

    BOT: Also check out NYC, as it deals with workers who live in other states.

    Question (for your municipality), does the county pay for infrastructure in the city, or is it the city's responsibility, and if so, do city residents pay for infrastructure provided by the county to outlying areas?
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Rem's avatar
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    Cardinal we are not permitted to have such taxes in Australia because we follow a British model of local taxation. You may want to do some research on the 'Poll Tax' in Britain. As I understand it, the proposal was for them change away from the system we inherited from them (land tax) to a 'head tax'. It led to significant protests verging on riots and was defeated. I assume there was a fair bit of literature generated at the time but it was probably pre-internet.

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