Face it folks, Alabama MUST change its tax policy and law – something about which Alabamians have been warned for quite some time. It’s not as if we’ve never heard the idea or notion, for indeed, Alabama’s income tax assesses a heavier levy upon the poor than the wealthy, and many large corporate timberland-owners (Georgia Pacific, Weyerhauser, International Paper, Gulf States Paper, et al) pay little or nothing on their vast holdings by comparison to others.
And that issue – a violation of the Sixth Amendment – is one reason why I can imagine former UAH professor Amy Bishop – accused of murdering her colleagues – may have a federal case on her side, because the state of Alabama has virtually shut down all funding of public defense and defenders.
Just to remind the readers, the Sixth Amendment reads: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.“
And for those readers whom, for one reason or another, are not up to speed on the wranglings of Alabama politics, India Lynch vs. State of Alabama – the federal case in which Alabama’s tax policies were on trial – ended in October 2011, with a 854-page ruling in the state’s favor by His Honor, Judge Lynwood Smith in which existing tax structures & organization were found not to be unconstitutional. That story may be found here.
The background: Alabama’s state income tax kicks in for families that earn as little a $4,600. Mississippi starts at over $19,000. Alabamians with incomes under $13,000 pay 10.9 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes, while those who make over $229,000 pay just 4.1 percent. Alabama relies heavily on state sales tax, which runs as high as 11 percent and applies even to groceries and infant formula.
A primary reason Alabama’s poor pay so much is that large timber companies and megafarms pay so little. The state allows big landowners to value their land using ”current use” rules, which significantly underestimate its value. Then individuals are allowed to fully deduct the federal income taxes they pay from their state taxes, something few states allow, which is a boon for those in the top income brackets.
We’re very fouled up here in the heart of Dixie.
And while the GOP controls the Governor’s Office, State House & Senate and most all high-level state offices, there are no signs of progress toward equity or justice.
But read on to learn why…
Potential cuts for state forensics: ‘It’s going to impact everybody’s lives’
Published: Saturday, March 10, 2012, 10:55 AM
Marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines.
The evidence spans 18,000 different cases. And maybe by 2013, Lonnie Ginsberg hopes, the state will process most everything on those 12 shelves.
This is the uncertain world Ginsberg oversees in cash-strapped Alabama. The director of the Huntsville lab on Arcadia Circle, Ginsberg manages a complex he describes as overworked and understaffed – which is why some drugs confiscated by law enforcement may sit on a shelf for a year before being analyzed.
Given that scenario, Ginsberg is Read the rest of this entry »