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Support for proposed personal income tax cut in Oklahoma slips among House Republicans

Backing for a proposal to cut Oklahoma's personal income tax is eroding among House Republicans as details emerge it could have an adverse effect on middle-class Oklahomans with two or more children and who itemize.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: May 22, 2012

Armes said he would like to see a cut in the personal income tax next year, but the state still needs revenue for core services such as education, public safety, health, transportation and human services.

Armes said HB 3061 had a 50 percent chance of winning House approval.

Rep. Glen Mulready, R-Tulsa, who supported an earlier proposal that called for cutting the top personal income tax rate by 3 percentage points next year, said he is undecided about HB 3061.

Asked if he thought the measure would pass in the House, Mulready said, “At this point, I would think probably not.”

Steele said he will continue to seek the measure's passage.

“It's important that this bill pass so Oklahoma can continue the economic momentum we're currently enjoying,” he said.

Fallin continues to encourage the Legislature to support this deal “and to deliver on the promise of a significant tax cut that conservative lawmakers have made to their constituents,” said Alex Weintz, the governor's communications director.

Is it constitutional?

Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said he continues to believe HB 3061 is a tax increase. If so, under State Question 640, the measure would need 75 percent support in both the House and the Senate to pass, or it would require a vote of the people.

“Not only is this plan fiscally irresponsible because it will inevitably lead to reductions to core services, but it is also illegal under the Oklahoma Constitution, as we also cannot pass revenue bills in the final five days of session,” Dorman said.

More than 30 House Republicans earlier this year backed a measure that would have cut the top personal income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 2.25 percent.

The deep cuts became unrealistic when legislators refused to eliminate or reduce corporate tax credits, which were part of the formula of how the state would make up for lost revenue.

Lost revenue in HB 3061 is partially offset by eliminating 33 tax credits, certain deductions and eliminating the personal exemption for single filers making more than $35,000 and joint filers making more than $70,000.

No major economic tax credits are being eliminated; retirement and veteran tax exemptions for individual taxpayers are safe.

The plan also eliminates the ability for taxpayers who claim itemized deductions on their federal and state returns to deduct their state income tax.

The plan would cost the state $32.7 million in the 2013 fiscal year, which would be paid for with growth revenue from this fiscal year. Revenue collections through April are $350 million higher than originally expected. The plan is expected to cost the state $102 million in the 2014 fiscal year.

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