Preview: W.Va. Property Tax Amendment On November Ballot
A proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot this November will give the West Virginia Legislature authority to remove or reduce a variety of county level property taxes.
West Virginia Public Broadcasting previewed the ballot measure, looking at concerns on how passage would affect the state economy, essential services and its taxpayers.
The proposed amendment provides the legislature with the authority to exempt tangible machinery, equipment and inventory used in business activity - and personal property taxes on motor vehicles from property taxation.
Del. Wayne Clark, R-Jefferson, was a sponsor of House Joint Resolution 3 that put the amendment proposal on the ballot. He said voters need to understand a yes vote does not make any property tax changes, but gives the legislature authority it did not have to consider and propose changes.
“What we do after that, that's going to be Senate and House Finance Committee Chairman (Eric) Tarr and (Eric) Householder’s process of where we want to look, at what taxes to maybe move or reduce,” Clark said. “I think the county commissioners think, ‘Oh, well, we're just going in there to take away your money,’ and that's not true. They don't understand that the amendment has to be passed, so that the legislature can look at making changes to the tax code.”
Sean O’Leary is the senior policy analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. He said these property tax cuts are something the legislative Republican leadership and caucus has been attempting for years.
O’Leary said neighboring Ohio got rid of its manufacturing personal property tax and it did nothing for manufacturing growth in that state. He said West Virginia property taxes are some of the lowest in the country, and the answer is to not make any cuts and use our tax revenues wisely.
“The solution is to take that tax revenue and invest it in ways that make West Virginia attractive and this is exactly what it does,” O’Leary said. “This money goes to schools, this money goes to public safety, this money goes to local infrastructure. We all want those things. Those things attract businesses. So why would we take that away? Why would we take away the resources that are funding the things that make West Virginia attractive?”
Voters will say yes or no to the officially titled “West Virginia Authorize Tax Exemptions for Vehicles and Personal Property Used for Business Amendment” on the election day, November 8, 2022.