Income Tax Elimination Efforts Increasing

  • Joe Wertz

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 ways to simplify the state’s tax code and lower overall rates.

This is nothing new.

Republicans have long advocated cutting taxes, but when they were the minority party in the Legislature they lacked the political muscle to make much progress.

Ten years ago, the anti-income tax argument became a political frenzy with a possibly faux proposal to throw out Oklahoma’s tax code and adopt Texas’s income taxless code word-for-word.

Like he did during tax credit task force meetings, State Treasurer Ken Miller is urging GOP leaders and the governor to base such tax discussions on financial facts, and to be cautious of “idealogy.”

A Gov. Mary Fallin spokesman reiterated her support of income tax reduction to The Oklahoman, as did House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa.

Revenue Replacement

The income tax is the largest source of tax revenue in Oklahoma, supplying about one-third of all taxes the state collects.

Treasurer Miller voiced worry about being able to replace it, as did Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

“ … We’ve got to have a discussion (on) what we’re going to do to offset the loss,” Sears told the paper. “I still want roads and bridges, still want quality schools.”

Replacing the income tax revenue would require big increases in other taxes, said Mickey Hepner, businesses college dean at the University of Central Oklahoma. Hepner suggested three possible replacements in The Oklahoman story:

  1. Increase sales tax base by adding more taxes on service
  2. Increase sales tax rate
  3. Creating a statewide property tax