Don't Like Taxes?
|Title:||Don't Like Taxes? Move to the 'Free State'|
Don't Like Taxes? Move to the 'Free State'
by David Brunori 07/29/03
In the latest column in his series "The Politics of State Taxation," State Tax Notes Contributing Editor David Brunori discusses the virtues and risks of not having a government. He looks at a group that wants to abolish state taxes.
 "The Politics of State Taxation" is a column by State Tax Notes Contributing Editor David Brunori, who welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Are you unhappy with your state government? Tired of paying taxes? Don't care if no one answers the phone when you dial 911? Then you should sign up to join the Free State Project.
 What is the Free State Project? The FSP, as I am going to call it, is a plan in which 20,000 people who don't like government would move to a single state and take it over through the political system. Once in control, they would dismantle the government.
 These are not your normal nutty political extremists. They have been on MSNBC, and Stateline.org did a feature article about them. The project was founded and is led by a Ph.D. student from Yale. They claim to have 3,500 members and hope to have 5,000 by year's end. In a few years, they hope to have 20,000 activists who would all move to 1 of 10 states. They are going to choose from Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, Idaho, and Maine. These states, according to the FSP, all have small populations (so 20,000 voters can make a difference), and traditions of limited government. New Hampshire sure, but Vermont? Maybe I am just getting older, but if it were up to me, I would choose a state with a little warmer climate, say South Carolina or Arizona.
 Once there, they will run for office and peacefully take over. I say "peacefully" because these are no armed insurgents. Although I suspect most of them are armed. Are you skeptical that the Free State Project can get 20,000 antigovernment activists to move to a cold New England or an even colder Rocky Mountain state? I am as well. But that is the beautiful thing about ideologues.
 Anyway, once they are firmly in control of the government operations, the fun starts. No more pesky health inspectors. No more meddlesome state troopers. No more cranky tollbooth operators. No more public school teachers. No more red lights. And no more taxes.
 As a person who writes about state taxes every week, I am worried. What will I do for a living? How will a certain eight-year- old boy in Virginia obtain the latest PlayStation2 games? I have been encouraging my law school students to consider careers in state and local tax. What will those who heeded my advice do? What will readers of State Tax Notes do? If there are no state taxes, there is no need for tax attorneys, accountants, economists, or revenue department officials. Perhaps Bill Remington, who recently departed as revenue head in Delaware, got out just in time.
 We need to band together: law firm and revenue officer, accountant and auditor, COST (Council On State Taxation) and MTC (Multistate Tax Commission). This could result in a new era of cooperation. Maybe even the lobbyists for the Direct Marketers Association would join us.
 In any event, our very livelihoods are threatened. It's not about whether we have a government to maintain civilization. It's about whether we will continue to have paychecks. So monitor the FSP. If this thing looks like it is taking off, we (those whose lives revolve around state taxes) should all move to the same state. We will be the opposition party that fights for more and more complex taxes. That will show them.
 If you are interested, check out freestateproject.org. And note the logo featuring a porcupine!
[FSP: Article continues with non-FSP related items]
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