The intramural competition among states to lure businesses and people from each other suddenly is getting sharper.

Just in the last two weeks, governors in two states (Nebraska and Louisiana) recommended ending their personal and corporate income taxes. Not reducing them. Eliminating them.

What’s particularly interesting is that Nebraska is not like the seven states that now have no personal income taxes and the three that have no corporate income taxes. Most of those states can tax the tar out of their natural resource industries (such as Texas and Alaska) or squeeze their tourists (such as Florida and Nevada).

In other words, even a state like Nebraska that can’t put a levy on some natural gift is getting interested in eliminating income taxes. That implies that the tax-cutting mind-set is spreading, even to places you wouldn’t necessarily expect.

Throw in Oklahoma and Kansas, which lately have made noises about cutting or eliminating their state income taxes, and suddenly, it seems, the tax-less-and-they-will-come movement is gaining currency. No doubt those states have seen what Florida and Texas have done – attract businesses and people by touting their no-income-tax status.

I am not suggesting businesses in California will stampede for Nebraska if that states zeroes out its income taxes. I am suggesting that as more states eliminate or reduce their taxes, particularly their income taxes, they generally become more attractive to businesses. The argument to move part or all of a business to a low-tax state becomes louder and more insistent. That argument will migrate to the top of mind for many business operators.

The increasing competition among states to lure businesses with tax cuts is getting sharper. And that does have implications for businesses operating in California, which, by the way, imposes the fourth-highest state and local tax burden in the country, according to a report a few months ago by the Tax Foundation.

• • •

Oops. It looks like Trader Joe’s made a marketing misstep last week.

It raised the price of its Charles Shaw wine from $1.99 a bottle to $2.49. (See the story on page 8.) It’s not the price increase, per se, that was the error. It was the amount of the increase. They should’ve raised it to $2.99.

Customers have always called the $1.99 wine “Two-Buck Chuck.” Everybody knows that name. Everyone smiles when the name is uttered. And every time someone said that name, it was a reminder of how affordable the wine is. Two-Buck Chuck is Trader Joe’s best-known product, and arguably its best marketing tactic – even though Trader Joe’s doesn’t officially use that name.

But now what do you call the wine? Two-and-a-Half-Buck Chuck? Two-Fifty-Buck Chuck? Or do like Prince and call it “the wine formerly known as Two-Buck Chuck”?

I know some believe it’ll still be called “Two-Buck Chuck” because $2.49 rounds down to $2. But I’m not a believer.

OK, as belly-flops go, this is not on par with New Coke or Apple’s map app. But it is a misstep nonetheless.

The grocery chain, based in Monrovia, should raise the price of the wine to $2.99. Better yet, make it an even $3. People will call it “Three-Buck Chuck.” And it will still be a reminder of how affordable that wine is.

Charles Crumpley is editor of the Business Journal. He can be reached at

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