The Midterm Elections Saw More Defeated State Tax Measures than Normal, Showing Changing Feelings Toward Taxes

Taxes are frequently found on the ballots during elections, including midterms. The most recent midterm elections in the United States took a unique turn when it comes to the tax measures found on the ballots, defeating more measures than in the past.

Past Trends vs. This Year

For the past 15 years, about half of the tax measures found on the ballots have been approved by voters. As a sharp contrast, more measures were defeated this year. Specifically, most of the measures that failed to pass were designed to increase taxes.

Potential Explanations

There are several potential explanations for the defeat of more tax measures than before on this year’s midterm ballots. One of these is that there were so many key races, many of which involved controversial issues. If people are unsure about a particular measure, they are more likely to vote no, so the focus on controversy and the races themselves may have led to the decrease in “yes” votes.

Some of the Issues

In Washington, a measure that would have introduced the first carbon fee in the country was defeated. Taxes on gas and transportation were defeated in California, Colorado, and Missouri. The California measure would have repealed a previous tax increase while the Missouri measure would have imposed a tax increase. North Dakota voted not to legalize marijuana while Michigan approved it and set up a 10-percent excise task for purchases. Tobacco taxes, which would have increased the tax on cigarettes in Montana and South Dakota, were both defeated.

Income tax issues were defeated in both Colorado and Maine, which would create tax brackets and levy extra taxes to be used for a universal home healthcare program, respectively. The category that saw more approval was tax restrictions, which were approved in Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and North Carolina but defeated in Oregon. The approved measures vary by state and do things such as lower the maximum state tax income rate, require legislative supermajorities to pass tax increases, solidify exemptions, and exempt feminine hygiene products from taxes.

What It Means for Taxes

As most people prefer to pay low tax rates, it is useful to take a closer look at what the votes on tax measures mean. The majority of the measures that were rejected would have led to an increase in taxes, indicating that low taxes are a priority. There were also some corporations that fought to protect their personal interests. An example would be in Washington state, where a carbon fee was on the ballot. Gas and oil companies were largely responsible for this measure being rejected thanks to their lobbying efforts. It is important to keep in mind that while many state measures failed, the results of the midterm elections could have an impact on the federal tax code and personal finances for everyone from high-net-worth individuals down.


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