Sen. Jeff Flake Stands Up for Arizona’s Consumers and Businesses

Takes to the Senate Floor to Raise Concerns with Border Adjustment Tax

Phoenix, AZ – Today, Americans for Affordable Products, a coalition of nearly 200 businesses, local organizations, and trade associations united to stop the Border Adjustment Tax or BAT, and its resulting increased prices on everyday necessities, thanked Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) for speaking out on the U.S. Senate floor to raise his concerns with the BAT.

The Border Adjustment Tax is a provision of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) tax reform plan, which, if enacted, would levy a 20 percent tax on imported goods.

During the floor speech, Senator Flake expressed his worry that BAT “could make everyday consumer products more expensive at the very places that middle-class families shop the most…[and] household staples could be pushed out of reach for those who can least afford it.” He went on to say that he’s looking forward to working with his colleagues on tax reform, “but we ought to make sure that the middle class isn’t in the losing column.”

“Senator Flake’s stout defense of Arizona’s businesses and consumers earlier today cannot be lauded enough,” said John Arterburn, owner of Ace Hardware in Pinnacle Peak. “A 20 percent tax on imported products could threaten the viability of my business, forcing me to make tough choices – I’d either have to raise prices or eliminate staff.”

If enacted, the Border Adjustment Tax could result in American consumers spending an additional $1,700 per year on basic necessities like food, clothing, medicine and gasoline.

“Everyone agrees, simplifying our complicated tax code is very much needed, but shifting the burden onto the backs of the middle class while killing U.S. jobs is not the way to do it,” said Robert Medler, VP of Government Affairs for the Tucson Metro Chamber. “Senator Flake hit the nail on the head today – we need tax reform in this country, but introducing a Border Adjustment Tax which amounts to a hidden tax on consumers and punishes those that are the least fortunate dampens what would otherwise be a popular plan.”

Americans for Affordable Products is a coalition of job creators, entrepreneurs, business leaders and consumers united against higher prices on everyday necessities. To learn more, please visit: www.KeepAmericaAffordable.com.

Additional Information:

  • Resources: Coalition Infographic, Myth vs. Fact, and More
  • Press Release: AAP Launches Opposition to BAT

To schedule an interview with an Americans for Affordable Products representative, please email press@KeepAmericaAffordable.com.

Border Adjustment Tax Could Derail Tax Reform

Americans for Prosperity - Arizona

By: Tom Jenney – Americans for Prosperity, Arizona

One of the most enduring symbols of Arizona is the Grand Canyon.  In fact, many people have nicknamed us the Grand Canyon State.  This most famous of the national parks also illustrates the stakes for Arizonans in the debate that is currently being waged in Washington, D.C. over tax reform.

Let there be no mistake: the so-called Border Adjustment Tax (BAT) would blow a Grand Canyon-sized hole in our economy and the budgets of working families.

In Arizona, the retail industry is a significant source of jobs.  There are more than 64,000 retail businesses that support 828,000 jobs, contributing $53 billion to our economy every year.  If you lined up the workers who are employed because of retail in Arizona shoulder to shoulder, they would span just about the entire length of the Grand Canyon.  That’s a lot of jobs and many of them could be on the chopping block if Speaker Paul Ryan, and U.S. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady move forward with the BAT.

The BAT is a national sales tax that would raise $1 trillion in new revenue over the next ten years by taxing imports.  Small businesses, particularly retailers would be discriminated against, while big multinational corporations that ship products overseas, would have their exports exempted from federal taxes.  This is a classic example of Washington picking winners and losers among industries, but in this case, it would be middle-income working families who get the shortest end of the stick and pay the ultimate price.

The BAT would drive up the cost of everyday necessities, such as gasoline, groceries, food and clothing, including prescription medicines.  According to the National Retail Federation, the average Arizona family could end up paying more than $1,700 per year in higher prices.  This is a lot of money that struggling, working families, who have seen their wages stagnate in recent years, simply can’t afford to pay.

Fortunately, the BAT is running into a buzz saw of political opposition.  Conservative organizations such as the Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity have blasted the BAT as being anti-consumer and anti-free market.  Senator Jeff Flake should take note of this opposition and publicly oppose it.  Moreover, Congressman David Schweikert sits on the Ways and Means Committee and should work to keep this tax increase on Arizona families from ever getting out of his committee.

Arizona’s elected leaders could do the vital retail businesses in our state and middle-class families a great service by formally announcing their opposition and driving a nail in the coffin of BAT.  Tax reform is too important to the health of the economy and the pocketbooks of working households for it to be derailed by an exotic, anti-consumer, anti-small business tax.  The BAT is simply bad policy, and it deserves to die an early death, so conservative, free market tax reform can get back on the right track.

It is time to save tax reform, which is badly needed for families and businesses alike in Arizona, by saying no to and killing the BAT.  That is the first step to fairly and equitably lowering the rates for everyone and allow the free market to work.  Conservatives were not elected to Congress to put their thumb on the scale and pick winners and losers, and that is exactly what a trillion-dollar tax increase on Arizona families does in exchange for a permanent tax holiday for multinational companies, many of which already exploit loopholes and receive special deals from lobbyists in Washington.  Senator Flake and Congressman Schweikert, voters sent you to the nation’s capital to fight for their interests and are watching who you stand up for.

Tom Jenney is the State Director of the Arizona Chapter of Americans for Prosperity.

Gilbert and Chandler Place Well In Annual US City Fiscal Health Rankings

Town of GilbertCongratulations to the Town of Gilbert and City of Chandler for placing high in the annual US City Fiscal Health Index.

The index, prepared by The Fiscal Times, looks at five factors to derive the rankings including: ratio of city general fund balance to expenditures, ratio of long term obligations to total government-wide revenues, ratio of actuarially determined pension contributions to total government-wide revenues, change in local unemployment rate and changes in property values. Data is reported by the cities themselves from 2015. Only cities with populations of 200,000 were evaluated. (Tempe, Peoria, Surprise, Yuma, Avondale and Flagstaff have populations less than 200,000.)

City of ChandlerThe Town of Gilbert placed 17th while the City of Chandler placed 20th.

Other Arizona cities placed lower on the list:

Phoenix – 43
Glendale – 77
Tucson – 81
Scottsdale – 84
Mesa – 85

At the bottom of the list were Chicago and New York City.

To view the full index, click here.

Arizona AFP: LAST CALL: RSVP for Friday’s Celebration!

We are excited to celebrate YOU this Friday.

Arizona AFP

This is the last call to attend our Liberty Celebration, this Friday, December 9, to celebrate your legislative and policy victories for 2016. We would love for you to join us.

RSVP as soon as possible for our Liberty Celebration as seats are limited!

Where:  Christ Church Lutheran, Arizona Room
3901 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018

When: 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Why: Americans for Prosperity Arizona will be honoring our top activists-America’s freedom fighters and our friends! We will also honor legislators and local government officials with the designation of Friend of the Taxpayer of higher on our annual scorecards (Legislative Scorecard and Local Government Scorecard).

Dinner and drinks will be provided.

AFP across the United States contacted 30 million Americans at the phone and the door – that’s 10% of the entire country! All told, AFP advocated against Senate candidates in eight states. All but one of those candidates were defeated. That’s something to celebrate! We will giving each of our top winners a prized jackalope.*

Please RSVP and come celebrate YOUR efforts for promoting liberty and prosperity for all Arizonans!

For Liberty & Prosperity,

Tom Jenney
Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity Arizona

*Think that jackalopes do not exist? Well, that’s how a lot of taxpayers feel when we tell them that there are pro-taxpayer elected officials and local activists. But they really do exist! And we plan to honor them on Friday, December 9th. Please join us!

Christine Jones Signs No New Tax Pledge

Christine Jones

Christine Jones Signs Americans For Tax Reform Pledge

(Gilbert, AZ) – Conservative business leader Christine Jones signed the Americans for Tax Reform Taxpayer Protection Pledge today marking a sacred promise to the people of Arizona’s 5th Congressional District on the issue of reducing taxes and spending.

The pledge, which President Ronald Reagan popularized 30 years ago, is a promise not to raise the marginal income tax rates on individuals and businesses. The pledge also opposes any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits unless matched dollar for dollar by tax reductions.

ChristineJonesATRPledge

“As a successful business leader, I fully understand the adverse impact that our tax policy can have on individuals, families and businesses. I take this pledge very seriously and will do everything in my capacity to relieve the tax burden on Americans,” Christine Jones said. “The next President and Congress must confront the staggering $19 trillion national debt head-on. For far too long, the career politicians have failed to take on this crisis and the problem has only worsened,” she continued. “Reducing taxes, cutting spending and lowering our national debt will be one of my highest priorities.”
CJATRPledge

ATRA: AG Audit Harshly Critical of GPLET

ATRA

By Jennifer Stielow

A recent audit by the Arizona Auditor General (AG) revealed many critical flaws surrounding the calculation, collection, distribution, and reporting of the Government Property Lease Excise Tax (GPLET).

According to the AG’s review of 268 leases, nearly half are currently under eight-year abatement; and therefore, no revenue is being collected. Forty-five percent of the leases examined are paying GPLET under the rate structure that existed prior to 2010 that imposes a dramatically lower tax burden than the current GPLET rates. Of all the leases audited, only 16 (6%) are subject to the new GPLET rates. As a result, the AG found that the 2010 GPLET revisions have not resulted in increased revenue as expected because so few leases pay tax under the new rate structure.

Additionally, the AG found many examples where the incorrect GPLET was calculated because either the wrong rates were used and/or not all of the property subject to GPLET was included. In fact, in certain instances lessees failed to remit GPLET payments altogether.

The audit also found that the distribution of GPLET revenues by county treasurers was done incorrectly by using the distribution percentages for property tax rather than GPLET, which are different. Furthermore, although county treasurers are required to assess penalties and interest on delinquent payments, none did so.

There are several reporting requirements under GPLET, one of which requires county assessors to annually report the value of all GPLET property, which includes properties under abatement, to the Arizona Department of Education (ADE). The AG found that only three of the seven counties that have GPLET deals reported the valuation of GPLET properties to ADE. This is a major cause for concern since underreporting GPLET values to ADE requires the state general fund to pay more in state aid payments to school districts than otherwise required. Overall, auditors’ interviews with city, town, and county officials indicated a general lack of understanding of GPLET requirements and recommended the Legislature modify statutes to address GPLET deficiencies.

This special audit was a requirement of the 2010 legislation that enacted several revisions to GPLET. The purpose of the audit was to determine if the revisions resulted in a viable revenue source in lieu of an ad valorem property tax on possessory interests for counties, cities and towns, community colleges, and school districts.

Originally enacted in 1996 as a successor to the possessory interest tax, GPLET allows government to enter into lease agreements with private entities to use government-owned property for private use and be subject to an excise tax in lieu of a property tax. By 2010, cities had dramatically expanded their use of the eight-year abatement. Additionally, the tax liability under the existing GPLET rate structure was not only considerably lower compared to the property tax, but the entire tax obligation disappeared at fifty years.

In an effort to address some of the inequities with GPLET, the 2010 legislation limited the size of Central Business District (CBD) boundaries for leases who qualify for the eight-year abatement. A new rate structure was implemented that nearly doubled the existing rates, and while rates under the old structure dropped 20% every ten years until reaching zero by the fiftieth year, the new rates are adjusted annually by the producer price index for new construction indefinitely. Finally, the legislation prospectively limited GPLET deals to a maximum of 25 years, including any abatement period, at which time the government lessor is required to convey the property to the prime lessee and the property is then placed on the property tax rolls.

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The Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA) is the only statewide taxpayer organization representing a cross section of Arizona individuals and businesses. Organized in 1940, ATRA is the largest and most respected independent and accurate source of public finance and tax policy information. ATRA represents taxpayers before policy makers at the state and local level. ATRA’s fundamental belief is that every governmental expenditure is directly related to a tax. ATRA’s goal is efficient statewide government and the effective use of tax dollars through sound fiscal policies.

POLL: Maricopa County Voters Say Raise Age to 21 to Buy Tobacco, Keep Coyotes in Glendale

MBQF
MarsonMedia

Poll also shows voters want Arizona Coyotes to stay in Glendale

(Phoenix, AZ) — Only adults 21 and over should be able to buy tobacco products, according to a new poll of Maricopa County voters.

Of the 584 respondents to a poll conducted Dec. 29 by MBQF Consulting and Marson Media, 72 percent said they support increasing the age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21. Just 28 percent oppose the move.

The poll also found Maricopa County voters prefer the Arizona Coyotes remain in Glendale, 55-45. And finally, Maricopa County approve of Indian tribes opening Las Vegas-style casinos off traditional reservation land by a margin of 45-39.

“It is clear among all political stripes that voters want to increase the legal age to buy tobacco to 21,” said Barrett Marson, CEO of Marson Media. “As cities in Maricopa County consider these proposals, they can move forward knowing voters support the move.”

Mike Noble Added, “What was interesting was that support to increase the legal age was basically the same between Republicans, Democrats and Independent voters.”

Despite spotty attendance performance throughout its years in Glendale, voters don’t support moving the Arizona Coyotes to a downtown Phoenix or East Valley location, the poll found. The team has said it will explore a move to a new arena downtown or could build an arena on the Salt River Pima Indian Community near Scottsdale.

“The Coyotes are locked in a battle with Glendale but voters actually prefer the team stays in the Gila River Arena,” said Mike Noble, CEO of MBQF Consulting.

As for Indian gaming, county voters appear OK with tribes opening casinos off of traditional reservation land. The Tohono O’odham recently opened a casino near Glendale though it lacks table games like blackjack that are at other casinos.

“Voters don’t mind Indian casinos in the metropolitan area even if they are operated by tribes far away,” Marson said.

In the automated telephonic non-partisan survey of 584 high efficacy voters, conducted on December 29, the survey calculates a 4.06% theoretical margin of error, plus or minus in percentage points.

For more information about this survey, or a summary of topline data and wording, please contact Mike Noble or Barrett Marson.

Dial “D” for Disappointing

Jeff Dial D

Dear Arizona Taxpayer:

You may not know Arizona state Senator Jeff Dial.  But his disappointing record on fiscal policy issues affects you and your family. CONTACT DIAL NOW to TAKE ACTION.  Or join AFP-Arizona’s field teams (info below) as we go door-to-door in Dial’s district, letting taxpayers in his district know about his record:

— Senator Dial voted against Governor Doug Ducey’s fiscally conservative balanced budget.  His failure to support the budget almost caused the state to spend millions of dollars we can’t afford.

— Senator Dial single-handedly blocked passage of the Truth in Spending budget transparency bill, by not even allowing the bill to be heard in his committee.

— Senator Dial scored 47 percent on AFP-Arizona’s 2016 Legislative Scorecard, earning him the designation of “Friend of Big Government.”

— Senator Dial’s cumulative score on the Legislative Scorecard is 51 percent, earning him the designation of “Needs Improvement.”

The 2016 legislative session that begins in January will give Senator Dial another chance to get it right and vote for fiscally conservative policies.   Tell Senator Dial to stop listening to the teacher unions and the Big Spenders and start listening to the hard-working taxpayers in his district.

Use THIS LINK to TAKE ACTION and contact Senator Dial.

To join our field teams for door canvassing action in Dial’s district (Ahwatukee/Tempe/West Chandler), contact Leslie White atlwhite@afphq.org

For Liberty & Prosperity,

Tom Jenney
Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity
tjenney@afphq.org

Paid for by Americans for Prosperity, the nation’s largest free-market grassroots organization.  To get on our email list and help us encourage Senator Dial do the right thing, contact us at infoAZ@afphq.org or (602) 478-0146.

Who is responsible for raising your property taxes?

AFP

Dear Arizona Taxpayer:

Maricopa County Treasurer Hos Hoskins made headlines with the policy letter he included with recent property tax bills for Maricopa County residents.  (Note for those living outside of the “Great State of Maricopa”: this does apply to you, as well.)   Hoskins has re-opened an interesting policy debate about the extent to which property tax burdens have been shifted from business property taxpayers to residential property taxpayers (or vice-versa, depending on your point of view).  We have included some links below about that debate.

Setting aside the debate about the burden shift, Hoskins made a claim that is very counterproductive to the efforts of property taxpayers to fight for tax relief.   Multiple times in his letter, Hoskins made the following claim: “Voicing your opinion to anyone other than your legislators will change nothing.”

That claim is highly misleading.

Consider just a few examples from your property tax bill.  If you look closely, you will see several line-item levy amounts from several different local government taxing authorities: your K-12 school districts, your community college district, your city government, your county government, and multiple special taxing districts.  Each of those taxing districts have authority, completely independent of the state Legislature, to raise (or more rarely, lower) your property tax levy.

(Note: Always focus on the levy, which is the actual number of dollars you must pay, rather than the rate.  If local officials brag to you that they have lowered property tax rates, hold onto your wallet and ask them what is going to happen to your actual levy.)

Many Arizona school districts and municipalities have put budget override and bond measures on your November 3 ballot.  If passed by voters, those measures will increase your property tax bill.  Those measures were not placed on your ballot by the Arizona Legislature.  They are on your ballot, and driving up your tax bill, at the sole discretion of local elected officials.  Your school district board members are under no legal (or in our opinion, moral) obligation to try to push for an override.

For example, Phoenix Union school board members could have decided that spending $9,627 per student  (in current expenditures, not counting capital and other costs) is enough.  Even without the override, Phoenix Union will spend more than $9,000 per student – enough money to put two teachers in every classroom of 25 students and pay each of those teachers $75,000 per year.   Instead of trying to raise taxes via an override, the Phoenix Union board members could cut excess administration and other waste.  See our Phoenix Union flyer HERE, and contact us at bwitbeck@afphq.org if you want us to send you a flyer for your own school district.

We as citizens and taxpayers must hold the local officials in our cities, counties and school districts accountable for the dollars they choose to spend.  See AFP’s Local Government Scorecard to learn more about holding your local officials accountable.

Back to the interesting debate on the business-residential property tax levy shift…  For a defense of the shift and Proposition 117 (which passed in 2012), go here for the response of the Arizona Tax Research Association to the Hoskins letter.  Or go here for Senator Debbie Lesko’s response.

Boaz Witbeck
Arizona Policy Analyst
Americans for Prosperity

All Hands on Deck in Tempe! Rally To Stop The TUHSD Override!

By Peggy McClain

Are you tired of governments demanding more of your paycheck with negative results?

Say NO to Tempe Union High School Override (TUHSD)

All are invited to join us on Tuesday, 10-13-15 at 2 PM at the TUHSD office at 500 W. Guadalupe Tempe  85283 (NW corner of Guadalupe and Kyrene)

Let’s let the TUHSD Superintendent and Governing Board know they cannot fool us anymore.  Other districts will be taking notice as these override elections are occurring in many districts.

VOTE NO:  Why does TUHSD need 28,000 devices “for the students” if the student population is 13,600?

VOTE NO:  This is a permanent tax increase as overhead, staff, and increased bandwidth have not been budgeted for.

VOTE NO: There is NO PARENTAL CONTROL over who your student will interact with on-line nor what content your child will download.

VOTE NO: This tax increase WILL NOT lead to more money for teachers but will lead to a decrease in teachers.

(LINK)