Judge Hand had it right
August 7, 2002
“Over and over again Courts have said there is nothing sinister in so arranging one’s affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everybody does so, rich and poor, and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands. Taxes are enforced exactions, not voluntary contributions – to demand more in the name of morals is mere cant – Anyone may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes.” – Honorable Learned Hand, U.S. Appeals Court Justice, Helvering v. Gregory, 69 F.2d 810 (1934).
Judge Hand is correct, and the voters of Pitkin County should follow his advice.
This month, in a primary election with traditionally low turn-out, Pitkin County voters are being asked to change their home rule charter to allow property taxes to be collected in a different manner, essentially clearing the way for Pitkin County to raise their property taxes without their consent.
This change in the tax collection formula will enable higher taxes and virtually insure their increase. In November it is likely two more tax increase questions will be asked in Pitkin County. Say no to bigger government now and reject the charter change.
The economy may be poor, but like any business in tough economic times with lower revenues, the county must make cuts. The city of Aspen is prepared to do this, and I assure you there will be no tax increase in the city if I can help it.
A government is truly the best which governs least, and apparently the only way to force governments to shrink, or stay the same size, is to deny them further revenues (Judge Hand is also correct in that we should not allow specious pleas to our emotions to influence us. Threats of cuts in essential public services are unfair and untrue. Don’t be scared into increasing your taxes).
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It is time for Pitkin County, like everyone else, to tighten their proverbial belts, cut waste and spend within their means.
Please vote no on 1A on Aug. 13.
Aspen City Councilman