Huntsville Times columnist John Ehinger is saying what I said awhile ago. Here’s his column on what Alabama First Lady Patsy Riley can do if she wants to reduce Alabama’s high divorce rate. You’ll remember that I made similar observations here a couple of weeks ago.
Ehinger points out, as I did, that Alabama has both one of the highest rates of divorce in the nation and one of the highest rates of poverty in the nation. As he puts it, “I don’t know if poverty leads to divorce or vice versa, or both, but the correlation is undeniable.”
He calls on our First Lady and her husband to focus on two things: first, to eliminate the sales tax on food and nonprescription medicines. And second, to raise the lowest income at which the state’s 5% income tax kicks in.
According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, if you combine the income-tax rate on the poor with the tax advantages accorded the not-so-poor, two statistics stand out.
Alabama families earning less than $13,000 a year pay 10.6 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while families earning $682,000 pay as little as 3.8 percent in state and local taxes.
But if changing these taxes would reduce the strain on married couples, why hasn’t it been done? It hasn’t been done because the current tax system favors the individuals and businesses with the clout to get their way in the Legislature. It’s not that these interests want to hurt the poor but that they want to keep their own tax advantages.