o the Editor:
On March 1, 2016 the citizens of Cannon County will be asked to vote on whether we need to increase the local sales and use tax by 1.00%. I have been asked by several in favor of this new rate to share some information with the citizens about what we are voting on.
In my 42-year career with the TN Dept. of Revenue, I specialized in the sales and use tax part of this department. Part of my duties in this job was travel to major universities across the state, trade associations, chambers of commerce, and to seminars for public officials and speak on the topic of sales and use tax to audiences of all sizes. These experiences have led to the information that I would like to share with the citizen of Cannon County.
The law on Sales and Use tax is found in Tennessee Code Annotated 67-6-100 and continues throughout the chapter.
Please consider the following misconceptions most citizens have about a sales tax increase, followed by the facts dispelling the myth:
Myth #1: THIS NEW SALES RATE TAX WILL INCREASE THE COST OF EVERYTHING.
FACT: Many people think the new tax rate will increase the price of everything they by, when in fact, the following is just a portion of the purchases that will not be affected by a rate increase:
1. Electricity, natural and propane gas, Gasoline,
Diesel, firewood, coal, and other forms of energy.
2. Rental of realty, (homes, apartments, land for pasture etc).
3. Labor on realty (Buildings of all types, bulldozing. bushhogging. etc).
4. Purchases made with Food Stamps and WIC coupons.
5. All medical services, including Doctors charges, hospital stays, prescription drugs and medications, whether administered by medical professions or purchased from a pharmacy.
6. Insurance on anything, (home, health, life, car, etc)
7. Farm equipment and machinery, including repair parts and labor
8. Seeds, seedlings, plants that produce a food or fiber for human or animal consumption including garden seeds when purchased by a qualified farmer. This includes fertilizer.
9. Sale of personally grown farm produce including animals.
10. Wheel chairs, lift devices and other devices for handicapped persons.
11. Eye glasses and contact lens
This is the tip of the iceberg for local sales tax exemptions. The statute can be found on the department of revenue website www.stateoftn/revenue. I encourage you to read it.
Myth #2: THIS WILL ADVERSELY AFFECT THE LOWER INCOME POPULATION.
Fact: Having worked closely with many counties all over TN. and studying the results of their research, we find this is generally a ploy to keep people from voting for the increase. Remember I said that rental, groceries bought with food stamps and WIC coupons, electricity, gas, medical drugs and supplies are not subject to the local tax. By the way, used clothing purchased from 501(c)(3) retailers is equally exempt.
Myth #3: BUT WE HAVE THE HIGHEST RATE NOW.
Fact: Wrong again. In fact, the last time I looked only one county had a lower rate than Cannon. All the other counties have rates ranging from 2.00% to 2.75% with 2.25% being the dominant rate.
WHAT OTHER REASONS ARE THERE TO INCREASE THE RATE?
Do you believe in taking care of ourselves before our neighbors? The citizens of the counties of Rutherford, Coffee, DeKalb, Wilson and Warren have understood this and already enacted the higher rate. A major university study several years ago found that citizens in a rural county surrounded by urban areas utilized roughly 80% of their purchasing power in the other counties. Be honest. How often do you shop, eat out in Murfreesboro, McMinnville, Manchester, or Smithville? I am not saying buy only in Cannon County. I do believe, strongly, that we can fund our own county at the same rates that we pay in the surrounding counties and be better off for doing so.
So Please join me in voting for the good of the county and our future generations by voting for the local tax increase in this election on March 1.
Ray Todd, retired liaison for the TN State Dept. of Revenue