To: House Finance and Taxation Committee
From: Christopher T. Dodson, Executive Director
Subject: House Bill 1268 - Eliminate Sales Tax on Clothing
Date: February 2, 2009

The North Dakota Catholic Conference supports House Bill 1268 as a step toward a more fair and just system of taxation.

Several principles should guide questions of taxation so that systems of taxation conform to principles of justice, further the common good, and fulfill our moral obligations to the poor and vulnerable. First, taxation should be based on one’s ability to pay. In this respect, Catholic teaching supports a more progressive, rather than regressive, form of taxation, especially when it comes to taxation on goods and services essential to human dignity.

Second, taxation should be fair and just in its treatment of the poor. Those who are poor should not pay a disproportionate amount of income in the sum total of taxes paid. This is especially true in the case of a sales tax, in which low- and moderate- income people tend to pay in higher percentages of their total income.

Lastly, taxation must ultimately serve the human person, not the state or the economy. In this respect, tax policies should, in concert with other laws, ensure the best environment to allow people to obtain those goods and services essential to human life and dignity. Among those goods is clothing, which like food, shelter, and medicine, is a basic human right.

For these reasons, House Bill 1268 is the right thing to do. It would eliminate a regressive tax on an essential item. At the same time, it would make our tax system more fair and just, and help relieve the tax burden on the poorest among us.

We request a Do Pass recommendation on House Bill 1268.