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Jesse Ventura on Tax Reform

Former Independent MN Governor


OpEd: Reduction of deficit were "Jesse taxes"

Post 9-11-01: we face a "big honkin' budget deficit" Only a week after the race began, the political landscape was dramatically changed by the attacks of September 11. Pawlenty cancelled events for weeks afterward, as any politicking would have appeared in poor taste. "People's sense of what's important faced a $2 billion deficit--as Pawlenty termed it, a "big honkin' budget deficit." Nonetheless, he refused to move from his anti-tax stance. When Governor Ventura proposed a series of taxes to adjust for the deficit, Pawlenty attacked the "Jesse taxes" as harming "Jane and Joe Six Pack."
Source: Sam's Club Republican, by J.A. McClure, p. 24-25 , May 10, 2010

Cut fees on only some watercraft, as unconstitutional

I'd run into problems over wave runners. When I became governor, I happened to own four of the personal watercrafts. The legislature had placed a separate tax on them that applied to no other boat, to hire police to keep the people who used wave runners in line. I was getting nicked $50 apiece, $200 a year, for this new surcharge that was, in my opinion, completely unconstitutional. It was the equivalent of putting a tax on all red sports cars. So I managed to have the surcharge repealed.

I was accused of getting laws passed to benefit myself or my friends. Well, my view is, what else can you govern by except personal experience?

Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p.145 , Apr 1, 2008

Remove "license tab fees": a hidden sales tax

I did my best to correct what I felt was a 10 year sales tax masquerading as something called license tab fees. You already paid a sales tax when you purchased your car. But, to be able to get your license plates, you also had to pay an additional fee to the state--a percentage based upon the price you paid for the vehicle. I happened to have brought a new Porsche in 1990 and, just to drive my car, it cost me upwards for $4,000 in license tab fees over the course of 10 years.

How can you have a licensing system based upon the street value of the car? If you're going to do something like that, then base it on the weight of the car--that's what tears up the streets!

Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p.145 , Apr 1, 2008

Base property tax on services needed, not on value of home

One of the major issues that inspired me to run for governor was Minnesota's complicated property-tax system, which I'd vowed to change. In my first State of the State, I said: "Let's face it. We've lost any logic to this system. Property taxes no longer are tied to the services that are delivered. We have created a so-called progressive tax based on the value of the property. It punishes people for doing the right thing. If I keep up my property, my value and taxes go up, even though I don't need as many local services as the property that has been allowed to deteriorate and needs more inspections, fire protection, or police patrols."
Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p.164 , Apr 1, 2008

Replace property-tax-funded schooling with general funds

[Property taxes came] down to taxation without representation. You may have heard about MN being the "land of 10,000 lakes." A lot of people like myself live in the city, but own a little lake cabin to spend their weekends in. That's a tradition engrained in MN. You don't vote in the area where you own a 2nd home, yet the local bureaucrats could still raise your property taxes to pay for public education. Whenever they needed money for their school district, they'd dump it onto the cabin owners--who were, unfairly, footing the bill there, as well as where their own kids attended school in the fall.

So, in 2001, I came up with a plan for the state to start paying the full costs of public education out of a general fund, rather than from local property taxes--which would then become smaller, simpler, and fairer. To help pay for this switch, I proposed adding a sales tax onto many services that weren't subject to it--but, at the same time, lowering the overall sales tax from 6.5 to 6%.

Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p.164-165 , Apr 1, 2008

Modernize, simplify, & clarify tax system

Source: The Big Plan: Service, not Systems , Dec 10, 2000

Repeal the 16th Amendment

The IRS is the epitome of bloated, corrupt, wasteful government, and if we’re serious about government reform, the IRS deserves to take the biggest hit. Whatever we decide to do about tax reform, it’s got to be a sweeping, complete revolution. It has to be a vastly simplified system, with clear limitations on the amount of money the government can take. Otherwise, the government will continue to find ways of snapping up more than its share by taxing us three or four times for the same dollar.

I’m not crazy about a flat tax. The first reason is that even a flat tax is still an income tax. I think the Sixteenth Amendment, the one granting government the power to collect taxes on income, should be repealed. The other reason I’m against a flat tax is that we’ve already got one: It’s called Social Security. And look at the mess that’s in.

Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p.210 , Jul 2, 2000

Replace income with national sales tax

I’d like to see us do away with income tax entirely and go for a national sales tax. The government could collect the money it needs by placing a tax on the goods and services we buy. Then states could add their own taxes on top of that.

A fair national sales tax wouldn’t touch the necessities of life like food and clothing. It would make sure that people were able to provide for themselves with the basics before it collected any tax. Taxes would only be collected on optional purchases. That would make the taxpayers much more powerful. We could decide how much tax we’re going to pay by controlling our level of consumption. We would have the option of hanging onto our money and living off the basics, or of spending as much as we feel like. We wouldn’t be penalized for saving or investing. We wouldn’t have to hand the government money just because we’re looking our for our own financial welfare.

Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p.211 , Jul 2, 2000

Let people keep as much of their money as possible

In a capitalist society, problems are best solved by lowering taxes, not by making government larger. The best-case scenario is for government to empower the people by letting them keep as much of their money as possible, then support them in the decisions they make. Government works less efficiently when it begins to grow out of control and takes on more and more of the responsibilities that belong to the citizens.
Source: Ain’t Got Time to Bleed, p. 23 , Jan 1, 1999

$600 “Jesse Checks” tax rebate to every taxpayer

This year, the people of Minnesota received the biggest tax rebate this nation has ever seen. It averaged out to about $600 for every single taxpayer. Minnesotans have started calling these rebates their “Jesse checks.”

We also worked things out so that next year, Minnesota’s working folks won’t have to wait for a rebate: they’ll be paying less in taxes in the first place. They’ll get to keep more of their money. That’s what’s supposed to happen when government starts working more efficiently.

Source: Ain’t Got Time To Bleed, p.283 , Jan 1, 1999

Replace income tax with 15% national sales tax

We pay way too much of our income to the government. I want to see income tax done away with entirely. Income tax could be replaced with a 15% across-the-board sales tax. It would have to be done nationally--that’s the only way it could work. After it’s in place nationally, then each individual state could add its own taxes on top of that.

I’m totally sold on this idea. We’d be able to take home the gross on our paychecks! We’d be in control of how much tax we paid by choosing how much to buy. We wouldn’t be penalized any more for working hard and saving money! And it would be much fairer, because in the current system there are plenty of industries (legal and illegal) that get away with paying no taxes--gambling, drug dealers, cottage industries. But since everybody has to buy things, the tax would cover everyone, even illegal immigrants. But it’s got to start with the feds. And it will only happen if we, the citizens, show a lot of support for it.

Source: Ain’t Got Time To Bleed, p.272 , Jan 1, 1999

Supports national consumption tax to equalize tax burden

A national consumption tax would equalize the federal tax burden. Those who chose to save their money would no longer be penalized by the system. The income tax penalizes people for working and for saving their money in interest earning accounts. With a consumption tax, everyone would only be taxed on what he or she chooses to purchase.

Such a system also allows individuals to get their money before the government does. Each person then, in effect, decides how much the government will get based upon their individual spending choices. If people had to actively pay their taxes as opposed to the current passive system, it would result in lower taxation and fewer pork barrel programs being passed. Such a program would also ensure the government curbing its spending when the economy is weak, and learning to live within its budget.

Source: 1998 campaign web site, jesseVentura.org/98campaign , Nov 1, 1998

Reform outdated property tax system

I would like to totally revamp the property tax system as we currently know it. The current system was developed in the 1800’s and was essentially an income tax. Since then, the focus of our society has changed from agrarian to urban. In that transition, property taxes became regressive in nature. Today, they bear no relationship to the owner’s income or ability to pay. I want to change that.

The value of a property for taxation purposes should be fixed at the time the owner purchases the property. That is the one time the true value of the property can be fixed. The current system requires speculative valuations, and results in people being forced to sell their land when the “value” increases do to developments on nearby property. If the tax valuation is fixed at the time of purchase, individuals will know whether or not they can afford the taxes when they purchase their property. The only time the property valuation for tax purposes would be changed is when the property changes hands.

Source: E-Democracy Debate , Oct 5, 1998

No national sales tax or VAT.

Ventura adopted the National Governors Association policy:

Source: NGA Executive Committee Policy Statement EC-9 00-NGA1 on Feb 15, 2000

Let states independently determine estate taxes.

Ventura adopted a letter to Congressional leaders from 37 Governors:

We are writing to request equal treatment between states and the federal government on estate tax changes. Regardless of one’s view about phasing out the federal estate tax, the Governors are absolutely united in opposing any action that would discriminate against states in the phase-out of the state and federal estate taxes. This issue needs to be addressed before the Senate goes to conference with the House.

Governors believe that the ability of states to independently determine their own tax revenue policy is a basic tenet of federalism. Moreover, no federal tax bill should be enacted without close consultation with the states.

At the very least, there must be equity in the treatment of the state death tax credit in the tax bill the Congress considers with the proposed phase-out of the federal estate tax. Governors oppose provisions that impose disproportionate impacts on state revenue systems. The changes proposed by the Senate would have abrupt, significant adverse impacts on state revenues at a particularly onerous time for many states. The potential impact on states would begin next year and have a potential impact of between $50 and $100 billion over the next ten years.

We urge the leaders to respect those rights and to restore fairness.

Source: National Governor's Association letter to Congress 01-NGA19 on May 23, 2001

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Tax Reform.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Jesse Ventura.
  • Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by Jesse Ventura.
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Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)

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Page last updated: Oct 09, 2013