Stealth taxes drive voter anger

Published 8:36 pm Tuesday, February 2, 2016

By Roger Leonard

We are in the “silly season,” and I am writing this on the day of the Iowa Caucus. This election cycle may well define how angry the voters are with government of all stripes. This election is more about the outsider than any race in my lifetime.

The electorate’s anger is palatable and not just limited to the federal government. There seems to be an endless stream of bad news, and that includes at the state and local levels. On Nov. 8, we will go to the polls to select national, state and, in many cases, local leaders.

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In Suffolk, we get to elect a mayor. This cycle could be vital in changing local policy and strategy, which affects you and your pocketbook greatly.

One wonders if our elected elites are working for or against us? It often seems they are working against us and our interests.

A prime example is the recently disclosed run at raising taxes for transportation, again. Local and state elected officials tell us we are not paying enough for our roads and infrastructure. So they have brought forth another scheme to get us to pay more.

They have included the port’s “third crossing,” also known as Patriot’s Crossing, and many other projects that would not fix much in Suffolk, but they want us to pay, anyway.

The latest “Ponzi scheme” offered by these elites goes something like this: A proposed bill in the Virginia Senate would cast aside the 2.1-percent wholesale gas tax we now pay for a “better” tax (which means a higher tax), levied on a new sliding scale per gallon. They propose adding a sliding distributor tax, collected when a retailer like your local gas station buys gas.

For an average driver, driving about 15,000 miles a year, the tax could be about $95 a year at the high end, to the current tax of about $28. Of course, you also pay federal and other taxes on top of this one. Think of it as a little bite into your savings at the pump.

Is this going to be like the usual government shell game, in which it defines new funds by raising taxes for a specific need already funded, only to then take away general funds that had been earmarked for that need and spend them on other projects? This has been done on several occasions in the past.

We saw this happen in Suffolk, when we started paying an additional fee for our trash pick-up a few years ago. Up until then, trash disposal was paid for by our real estate taxes. But now we pay even more in a “Special Assessment” on our real estate taxes, only to see the previously noted taxes diverted to other spending.

Thus we now pay a special tax for garbage and recycling, while seeing the previous taxes go to other things.

There is good cause for anger and disgust this year, and I believe the voters will throw the bums out this election.

Roger Leonard is from Suffolk. Email him at