In November Propositions 416 & 417 Narrowly Passed Through, But Was it Legal?
In November propositions 416 & 417 narrowly passed through, it was seen as a victory for local officials and is supposed to bring new roads and freeways to Pinal county. The Goldwater Institute has other ideas though. The Institute took special interest in Prop 417 for a variety of reasons.
The Goldwater Institute describes themselves as an institute that drives results by working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and strengthen the freedom guaranteed to all Americans in the constitutions of the United States and all 50 states. With the blessing of its namesake, the Goldwater Institute opened in 1988. Its early years focused on defending liberty in Barry Goldwater’s home state of Arizona. Today, the Goldwater Institute is a national leader for constitutionally limited government respected by the left and right for its adherence to principle and real world impact.
The Institute took special interest in Prop 417 for a variety of reasons.
- The actual language of proposition 417 created confusion over who and what would be affected by the proposed tax.
- The proposition said that the tax would only apply to retail sales of items below $10,000
- The new tax disproportionally hurts people who aren’t rich and business that aren’t well-connected by creating a new set of tax brackets
- It’s unjust and unconstitutional for a county to design a tax to give a break to influential businesses
In September the Goldwater Institute sent a letter to Pinal County stating concerns over the language, as well as the discrepancies. The county did not respond to the letter, and 417 stayed on the ballot as written.
Timothy Sandefur, vice president for litigation at the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation said “This tax is confusing and poorly written, and it was passed under questionable circumstances, Voter information pamphlets led Pinal County voters to believe that the tax would comply with state law. But the actual proposition said that the tax would only apply to retail sales of items below $10,000. That is both unfair and illegal; Arizona law specifies what must be taxed when a county creates a transportation excise tax, and it doesn’t allow counties to create their own rules.”
“Under Pinal County’s new law, big-ticket items—namely cars—are taxed at a lower rate than inexpensive purchases, It’s unjust and unconstitutional for a county to design a tax to give a break to politically influential businesses by exempting them just to get their support for the tax. But that’s exactly what happened in Pinal County.” said Matt Miller, senior attorney at the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation.
Pinal County also has a track record of taxing residents without following through. For an example a similar tax to 417 was passed 15 years ago to fund transportation projects, but the money was used for other purposes, some of which could be called improper.
Sandefur noted that Arizona already has one of the most complicated tax classifications in the United States. “If counties are allowed to create new classifications on top of those, Arizona will become a patchwork of politically motivated tax laws that stifles free enterprise and makes it hard to run businesses especially small businesses, whose owners don’t have the political pull to write themselves exceptions to new laws.”
“In filing this lawsuit, the Goldwater Institute wants to help ensure that Arizona’s tax laws remain within rational limits and don’t end up destroying investment and economic growth in the Grand Canyon State,” Sandefur said.
Learn More About The Case
Read the complete complaint online to see the full details about the case. Do you agree or disagree with the complaint? Being a Pinal resident and being in an area where the North/South corridor will directly effect your way of life. From taxes, to traffic, to industry, to jobs growth, this case will impact you. Keep yourself inform to better understand the future planning of your area.
The full complaint is available online:
500 E Coronado Rd,
Phoenix, AZ 85004, USA