Government, Latest News, State Government, West Virginia Legislature

Tax cut bill is now in House hands

CHARLESTON — The state Senate passed a broad-ranging tax bill in a flash on Saturday. Now it’s in the hands of the House of Delegates, which could take a little more time.

House Majority Leader Eric Householder, R-Berkeley, said delegates are likely to take up the tax bill next week in conjunction with consideration of the budget bill.

The estimated $750 million tax reduction passed by the Senate is spotlighted by a personal income tax cut of a little more than 21%.

The initial 21.25% income tax cut is a bit more than one backed by senators a few weeks ago and a bit less than one previously supported by the governor and delegates.

Householder said it’s a good start.

“I’m quite happy. I’m going to celebrate a compromise anytime that we can offer tax relief for state citizens,” he said on “Talk of the Town” on WAJR Radio.

The income tax cut, if passed by the full Legislature, could increase in a few years because of a formula serving as a trigger. It would measure general revenue collections in a fiscal year minus severance collections compared to 2019 as a base year. If collections are ahead of the base year, that would activate the trigger.

Reductions wouldn’t exceed 10% at a time. The trigger system would go into effect in 2024.

“So, this puts us on a path; it’s a good start,” Householder said.

The revised bill also includes a personal property tax credit for vehicles. There’s also a 50% personal property tax break aimed at small businesses, which are refined through definitions in the bill. Also, there’s a tax credit for disabled veterans on personal income taxes on a homestead.

Gov. Jim Justice said Monday that he likes the tax package.

“Absolutely happy,” Justice said on MetroNews’ Talkline. “I mean, I told you over and over, you know, I absolutely just was rock-solid behind one thing and one thing alone and that’s putting money right back in hard work in West Virginians’ pockets and absolutely we’ve done that in this. But you know, we compromise. I told you that I was purely willing to do that.”

The governor acknowledged the House of Delegates still needs time to consider its details.

“We’ve met and we’ve agreed on certain, you know, on these principles and everything, but the House has been great and we want to give them their due and their time and everything and hopefully they’ll get across the finish line as well. But, but let’s not put the cart before the horse,” he said. “You know, we’ve got to get all of us across the finish line.”

Senate Finance Chair Eric Tarr said on “Talkline” that the tax cut proposal has been the result of significant deliberation.

“It’s a good compromise. I think everybody’s got a little bit of skin in it. Not everybody got what they want, and usually that’s a good compromise,” said Tarr, R-Putnam.

He said lawmakers put significant effort into determining the state’s spending obligations and then determining what could be available for cutting taxes.

“All along through that process, the Senate’s been very cautious because of the commitments we already have in the out years,” Tarr said.

Sen. Rollan Roberts, speaking on “Radio Roundtable” on WJLS Radio, said the tax bill seems solid but he left room for the unexpected.

“Everything you are hearing is a compromise that has been ongoing every day and almost every night for quite some time. It is now in the House’s hands to deal with, but we have at least the leadership of the House, the Senate and the governor on board, that these are agreed-to compromises.

“I think it should go, barring some sort of odd something happening.”

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