Remedial sales tax course

Pat Orr makes some curious statements and omissions in his Around Town “Sales tax 101” column (Daily Press, August 23, 2020).

First, after pointing out that sales taxes are proportional (that is, they apply to the buyer), Orr claims that “sales taxes are imposed on retailers for the privilege of selling personal property at retail.” Which is it? It’s worth mentioning that in a free country, legally buying and selling items is not a privilege, and I challenge anyone to prove that sales taxes are applied only by enlightened governments to remind citizens of their privileges.

Second, Orr states that “retailers are not obligated to pass this extra cost along to the consumer, but I am not aware of one that does not.” Orr should know that taxes are not recognized as earnings; sellers only collect the tax (without pay) on behalf of the taxing authority. If sellers also absorbed the extra costs of the tax itself, it would no longer be proportional from the standpoint of the buyer.

Third, Orr mentions “skyrocketing public employee pension costs” as the “driver” for tax increases but somehow forgets to mention that the Town of Apple Valley is spending millions in an effort that will add dozens of new employees (in addition to new police officers), perhaps because he is on record as supporting those efforts. If CalPERS is broken now, why add to the problem? Shouldn’t the already-broke Town cut staff and expenses?

And what about doing a little planning? Whenever there’s a budget shortfall, Town Hall points the finger at external factors, never at its lack of foresight and restraint … or defective accounting practices.

Finally, Orr presents the unanimity among Town board members as if it’s a good thing, when in fact the Gang of Five has voted us into each of our current predicaments.

Greg Raven, Apple Valley, CA