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The Orange County Taxpayers Association prefers fees to taxes. We like the fact that the users of a specific service, rather than the general public, pay for that service.

Taxes are paid by the general public for general governmental services, provided for the general public’s benefit, and for which it is infeasible for the users of the services to pay. Examples are jails, police and fire protection, municipal and superior courts, voter registration and elections.


Fees are paid only by users of a service. Examples are toll roads, permits, licenses, public parking, small claims court and water bills. Motor vehicle fuel “taxes” which are spent on roads are actually fees. Motor vehicle fuel taxes that are diverted to general governmental services are true taxes.

The government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

-Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. President

  • A fair tax distributes the burden evenly. (A bad tax splits the tax roll into high-payers and low-payers.)

  • A fair tax provides services that are useful to the general public. (A bad tax is levied, in lieu of a fee or benefit assessment, to give services to a few.)

  • A fair tax is levied only to pay for needed services. (A bad tax is used as an instrument of social policy, to reward or punish those currently in or out of favor with government.)

  • An understandable tax is visible. (A bad tax may be hidden, it may be disguised as a fee or assessment, or it may hide the cost of government.)

  • An understandable tax is levied and spent by the jurisdiction closest to the voters. (A bad tax is levied by a level of government that is remote from taxpayers, and spent on services of least local value.)

  • An understandable tax probably would be approved by voters for generally desired services. (A bad tax would be rejected by the voters, if they were given a chance to vote on it.)

  • An understandable tax is identifiable with the services it provides. (A bad tax is swept into a general fund and spent on a confusing array of programs.)


  • A cost-effective tax pays only for the few services that can be provided best by government. (A bad tax pays for services that could be provided effectively by the private sector.)

  • A cost-effective tax supports efficient and useful governmental programs. (A bad tax is wasted on governmental programs of dubious or unexamined value.)

Good for the Economy

  • A tax good for the economy pays for services that encourage growth of the private sector. (A bad tax discourages business development or creates dependence on government.)

  • A tax good for the economy is levied on consumption. (A bad tax is levied on production.)

  • A tax good for the economy encourages capital formation. (A bad tax is levied on savings and investment.)


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