Dear Editor:

In 1913, the 16th amendment to the Constitution was ratified instituting a national income tax. Only 3% of the population was subject to paying the tax. Over the intervening century, more and more citizens were subject to increasingly higher tax rates and the tax code morphed from a few pages to the tens of thousands of pages that provide a handsome living for hordes of tax accountants and attorneys.

The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) was enacted in 1969 to tax 155 high-income households that managed to pay nothing due to adroit exploitation of tax loopholes and deductions. The AMT eventually ensnared over 5 million taxpayers by 2017. European VAT taxes likewise started low but have increased over the years. It is the nature of politicians to promise that any new tax will apply only to "the rich," not the majority of the citizenry. History demonstrates that it is also in their nature to broaden the tax base and hike the rates over time.

While the Wemstroms and John F. Gloor may believe "the rich" will not leave a high tax state, they may have missed the exodus of retirees and the wealthy from California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and no, they are not moving to Indiana, Wisconsin, or Iowa. They are moving to states like Florida and Texas.

If they believe it can't happen here, just wait for the 2020 census and subsequent reapportionment. Illinois, New York, and even California are on track to lose congressional seats, a first for California. When "the rich" leave, does anyone beside the Wemstroms and Mr. Gloor believe that the rest of us will not be expected to pick up the slack?

Betting that Springfield politicians will show more fiscal restraint than politicians elsewhere is a sucker bet. If we believe the promises of Springfield politicians when they say, "Don't tax me, don't tax thee, tax that man behind the tree" and vote for a graduated income tax, we will certainly find ourselves asking how we could have been so stupid.

David E. Hanson

Savanna