Oklahoma

Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

Topics

Gov. "Alfalfa" Bill Murray

Why a State Property Tax is Not an Option in Oklahoma

Background

Painting by Kathryn Walker Richardson / Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund

Gov. "Alfalfa" Bill Murray led efforts to abolish the state income tax, which was abolished in 1933.

There’s a lot of debate about the proper mix of state tax revenues.

In Oklahoma, there’s a healthy discussion about sales, use, gross production and income taxes, all of which provide funding for state appropriation.

Just don’t mention a state property tax.

Oklahoma has a historical loathing of the state property tax, which is rooted in the Great Depression and the administration of Gov. “Alfalfa” Bill Murray.

The hatred continues today.

In the 1930s, Oklahoma’s legislature only met every other year. The legislature would pass a budget, which would be funded by a collection of tax revenues. In the ’30s, the state budget was largely funded by three tax sources: gross production, insurance premiums — and the property tax.

The property tax was used to fill in any budget gaps not filled by gross production and insurance premium taxes. When the price of oil tanked, property taxes swung wildly, said Alexander Holmes, Regents Chair of the Department of Economics at the University of Oklahoma.

The wild swings made it nearly impossible for landholders to make a plan to meet their property tax obligations, Holmes said. The Dust Bowl only added to land-related problems for property owners, he said.

Murray worked to impose millage caps on property equalization and led efforts to abolish the state property tax, which was done in 1933 with an amendment to the state constitution.

While no longer state-run, property taxes are still collected locally in Oklahoma.

Latest Posts

Revenue Losses from Intangible Property Tax Break Could Double

In November 2012, Oklahoma voters elected to exempt all intangible property from ad valorem taxation. Among the most vocal opponents of State Question 766 were public school officials, which depend on funding from ad valorem taxes. School administrators warned of the measure’s effect on local school funding. The tax exemption went into effect on Jan. 1, [...]

State Question 766: Will Public Schools Suffer if Oklahomans Vote to Stop ‘Taxing Ideas?’

Oklahoma County Assessor Leonard Sullivan isn't sure how much Sonic's logo is worth, even though he'd be making that determination if the reach of the intangible property tax is expanded.

Oklahoma lawmakers are scrambling to fix the state’s tax code after a court decision created business uncertainty.  The outcome of a 2009 ruling from the state Supreme Court could mean that Oklahoma businesses face a tax on all of their intangible personal property. This could mean taxes on business licenses, trade secrets and company logos — things with [...]

State Question 766: What An Oklahoma Hamburger Chain Can Teach Us About Intangible Property Taxes

Sonic Drive-In

Intangible property is everywhere. An item’s intangible value is determined by its non-physical attributes. Telecommunications and utility companies’ transmission lines are worth more than the material they’re made up of. They have an intangible value. In November, Oklahoma voters will decide State Question 766, which would ban the taxation of intangible property. The failure of [...]

A Great Property Tax Primer by the Tulsa World

The Tulsa World has sorted through the assessment ratios, rates, fair market values and mills, and assembled a nifty explainer on property taxes. As the paper’s Kevin Canfield writes, property taxes are confusing and complicated: Individuals with residential property in the city of Tulsa and the Tulsa Public Schools district, for example, could see their [...]

StateImpact OK Talks Taxes on Oklahoma News Report

In case you missed it, StateImpact Oklahoma was on OETA’s Oklahoma News Report last week to talk taxes with host Dick Pryor. We discussed ongoing efforts to reduce or eliminate the personal income tax, those use taxes — which almost no one pays — and the historical reasons most Oklahomans shudder at the thought of [...]

Past and Present Leaders Agree: OK Property Tax is No Solution

Painting by Kathryn Walker Richardson / Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund Lawmakers have Oklahoma’s individual income tax in their crosshairs heading into the next legislative session. But the personal income tax makes up about one-third of the state’s revenue. So, if efforts to reduce or eliminate the tax are successful — the state might [...]

Income Tax Elimination Efforts Increasing

With Republicans controlling Oklahoma’s state government, efforts to reduce or completely eliminate the personal income tax are “moving toward reality,” according to an Oklahoman report. From capitol reporter Michael McNutt: A gubernatorial task force is proposing a 10-year program to significantly reduce then ultimately eliminate the tax. A legislative task force also is looking at [...]

A Guide to the Great State Income Tax Debate

Caption

The individual income tax is under attack in Oklahoma. It’s the state’s largest source of tax revenue, but some groups and top lawmakers say eliminating the personal income tax would help Oklahoma grow and help the state attract and retain jobs. StateImpact Oklahoma has assembled a guide to bring you up to date on the [...]

BatesLine: Tulsa County Excise Board Rubber-stamping Property Tax Hikes

Tulsa blogger Michael Bates has a follow-up to last week’s Tulsa County Excise Board meeting, which was upended when a member questioned the purpose of the board’s existence. Bates writes: The excise board is supposed to analyze the request and determine its validity before approving it, but according to (Tulsa County Assessor Ken) Yazel, the [...]

Why Oklahoma Hates State Property Taxes

murray

There’s been a lot of talk lately about rejiggering Oklahoma’s tax code. Task forces at the state Capitol are hoping to trim some fat by way of an array of state-subsidized credits, rebates, breaks and economic incentives that reduce the tax base. Meanwhile, Gov. Mary Fallin and other lawmakers are pushing to reduce or eliminate [...]

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »

Economy
Education