Tax and Spend: Arizona’s Battle over Proposition 208 Goes to the Courts

Eliza Luna, a ballot designer with the Maricopa County Elections Department, counts ballots for the Arizona Presidential Preference Election at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in Phoenix, Ariz., March 17, 2020. (Cheney Orr/Reuters) How progressives are using ballot initiatives to raise taxes.

Last year, as part of their efforts to expand government subsidies to teacher unions, progressives across the country targeted Arizona’s ballot box with an unusual initiative to impose a potentially devastating new income tax on the state. Fortunately, the Arizona Supreme Court effectively ruled the initiative unconstitutional last month. But the ruling won’t stop progressives from targeting other states.

Euphemistically called “Invest in Education,” Arizona’s Proposition 208 levied a burdensome tax “surcharge” that would have nearly doubled income taxes on anyone earning more than $250,000 — which sounds like a high figure until one realizes that it didn’t distinguish between the personal income and the business income of small-business owners, and included no provision to adjust for inflation. That meant owners of small businesses — the chief employer in Arizona, as in all other states — were deemed “rich” (as in “tax the”) based not on their actual earnings, but on how

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