As the showdown between the Legislature and the Governor’s office continues – with Kasich pushing to spend any additional state revenues on tax cuts instead of helping out local schools and communities – you’re going to keep hearing from Kasich and his team that Ohio “had the seventh-highest taxes in the nation last year.”
Their numbers are coming directly from rankings by the Tax Foundation – a right-wing, anti-tax group partially funded by the Koch Family Foundations – which claims that “Ohio has the 7th highest state and local combined tax burden in the nation” based on their own state rankings.
The Tax Foundation’s state rankings – along with much of their other “research” – has been dismissed as junk science and unreliable by tax experts on both sides of the aisle. Governor Taft’s Tax Commissioner William W. Wilkins called the Tax Foundations’s rankings “bogus” and Strickland’s Tax Commissioner Rich Levin had even harsher words.
According to Levin, the ‘state business tax climate index’ issued annually but the Tax Foundation “isn’t credible at all” and should “absolutely should not be taken seriously by policy makers or other serious-minded people.”
Levin was so annoyed that people were taking these numbers seriously that he wrote a public rebuttal, which we’ve included below. As you can see in Levin’s letter, not only does the Tax Foundation’s research contain “a significant number of factual errors”, the foundation refuses to disclose how it calculates its rankings – meaning no one can validate or challenge their findings. “I’d call it “junk science””, says Levin. “Except that the Tax Foundation’s index isn’t really science at all.”
Oh – and here’s the worst part: since these ranking are based on the “state and local combined tax” – Ohio is very likely to continue moving down the rankings next year. With Kasich’s budget pulling HUGE amounts of state funding from local communities, the local tax burden in Ohio is guaranteed to go up over the next two years as local communities pass tax levies to make up the difference.