Reforming Oklahoma tax code may take longer than many want

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: April 6, 2012
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A money thing happened on the way to seriously cutting or eliminating the state personal income tax. What happened was an inability to find the money to pay for it.

More precisely, it was the inability to agree on what source of money would be tapped. Ending tax credits and deductions was the favored choice to offset an immediate 2 percentage point reduction in the top income tax rate. But those credits and deductions have friends in diverse places, from high-income developers down to modest-income retirees.

Gov. Mary Fallin's tax code reform, announced with great fanfare in January, is said to be on life support. It's not clear whether the 2012 legislative session will end with any tax cut, much less the significant one that Fallin and many Republican lawmakers wanted. At this point, the push for tax cuts is driven by politicians and advocacy groups rather than by a grassroots groundswell.

The people, voting with either their opposition or their indifference, seem to be saying this: No major tax cuts are justified this year.

Tax cutters got no help with their position from two veteran economists who said Tuesday that Oklahomans are already enjoying a tremendous tax savings from previous income tax cuts and the state's inability to collect sales taxes on many purchases made over the Internet. Another bit of bad news for tax cutters came Tuesday from state Treasurer Ken Miller, who said Oklahoma's two-year revenue growth streak ground to a halt because of declines in gross production tax collections.

Oklahoma's top personal income tax rate of 5.25 percent is too high, but caution is advised in cutting the rate too much, too fast. The state's tax credits and incentives were overdue for a thorough review. That effort has resulted in many recommendations but not many changes.

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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