Monday, November 2, 2015

November at EIRSF: Giving Thanks, #NonProfitNovember, and Tax Law Reforms

Good morning, and happy November: the oft-forgotten month between Halloween Month and Christmas Month!

It’s sort of understandable that November tends to get lost in the midst of the season that begins with candy and costumes and ends with presents and Christmas cheer. But there are plenty of fun and celebratory things about November: Thanksgiving, and all that delicious food, for instance, and a host of movements like No Shave November and #NonProfitNovember, which you can read more about over at the ExpressTaxExempt blog.

And maybe most importantly, November is election month. Even in off years like this one, citizens of different states will still find themselves at the polls on a day in November to vote on local and state issues. At least, they will if they want to have a say in their tax laws and policies:

Voters in Washington state will decide this November whether to cut the state sales tax from 6.5% to 5.5%, if the legislature does not place a constitutional amendment on the ballot to require a 2/3 vote of the legislature to raise other taxes. This measure is almost certain to be challenged in court if it passes.

In the state of Colorado this year, $58 million in tax revenue was generated from sales of legal marijuana. Now, Colorado voters will have to decide whether to allow the state to keep it. Under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, passed in 1992, Colorado is required to refund tax revenues that exceed state budget estimates. If voters reject this year’s measure, the $58 million will be refunded by cutting taxes on marijuana sales and through rebates to growers and taxpayers.

It’s common knowledge that public schools are taxpayer funded, but this month Mississippi voters will vote on two measures that would dramatically alter the way the state pays for public education. One measure requires the state to fund “an adequate and efficient system of free public schools.” The alternative, put on the ballot by the legislature, would give lawmakers the ability to fund schools at their discretion.

Oregon voters will vote on two tax changes this month. For the Grants Pass sales tax, voters will decide on a 2% sales tax to generate money for public-safety services; and for the Pendleton gas tax, the city is seeking a 10-year fuel tax of 5 cents a gallon to raise money for street repairs and maintenance.

Even if your state isn’t listed above, keep in mind that a lot of places have local- and state-level elections each November that are every bit as important as the almost-overly-publicized presidential elections. Stay informed on what’s going on where you live so that you can have a say in how things are run.

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