Gov. Steve Beshear says this is a bad time to be talking about tax reform because it would mean higher taxes for some Kentuckians, and he doesn't want to go there in the middle of a recession.
But what Beshear fails to consider in taking this stance is that the Kentuckians slammed hardest by the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression are the ones most desperately in need of the relief true tax reform would bring them — the low- and middle-income folks who bear a disproportionate share of the state and local tax burden.
A study released this week by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy in Washington, D.C., found that in 2007, taxes consumed from 9.4 percent to 11 percent of these folks' income.
But the tax burden on the richest 1 percent of Kentuckians was just 7.1 percent.
This disparity is not of recent origin. Back in 1991, an organization called Citizens for Tax Justice reported that the poorest 20 percent of the state's citizens paid 12.5 of their income in state taxes while the wealthiest 1 percent contributed just 8 percent of income to the state treasury.
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