Taft#039;s tax tactics will test state#039;s tenacity

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Something has got to give. That's the general feeling many citizens in Ohio have about the state's tax system.

And, apparently, something is about to give, or at least have the opportunity to give. Gov. Bob Taft is expected to unveil the details of a new tax reform plan this week, both in his annual State of the State address and in his proposed budget that he plans to unveil on Thursday.

Taft attempted to overcome the massive obstacle of changing the tax system two years ago, but the Legislature refused to accept his proposals.

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This year, the climate in the state seems more favorable to the notion of reworking the system.

One of the most important areas in which Ohio can reap economic benefits is revising the tax code that penalizes businesses for inventory and equipment.

Years ago, when the industrial economy was booming in the state, the current system probably made perfect sense. The logic was probably that, if a huge industrial giant such as Goodyear or Ironton Iron is operating, let's tax them on the expensive equipment and/or the inventory that they hold.

Think about it, when the factories were really cooking, the state had little reason to fear that something would stop that, let alone a big tax. In essence, the thought was, tax them some more, there's nothing they can do about it.

Today, after years and years of rough economic times, that logic doesn't seem to hold much water.

In our modern, global economy, such heavy taxes serve as a burden for business expansion.

Almost anyone who has witnessed the loss of jobs in Ohio will be among the first to say, "We do not need more barriers to business."

Taft's tax plan, which also includes changes to personal income taxes, will seem a bit like a gamble because the plan would initially bring in less money to state coffers.

Critics will immediately see the negative aspects of the plan.

But we think Taft's plan needs serious consideration by lawmakers. Ohio's economic situation is bad and shows no signs of quickly changing. Taft's plan may seem like a bit of a gamble, but it is a gamble the state may not be able to pass up.