Tax Reform Committee Looks to National Groups for Guidance

May 19, 2015

Members of the Joint Committee on Tax Reform met in Charleston this week to carry on the new committee’s quest to improve the business climate in West Virginia.

The group looked to leaders from national policy and tax reform organizations to learn about the progress, or in some cases regress, other states are making as they take on changes in their tax codes.

Representatives of the Tax Foundation, a D.C. think tank, and the National Council of State Legislatures both presented lawmakers with reviews of the tax reform initiatives states across the country have taken in recent years.

Both warned not to take on changes too quickly, using Kansas as an example of a state that lacked balance in its reforms.

As Kansas took on system reformations, they made major cuts to taxes, but approved no revenue increases, nor cuts to services. The cuts led to a $4.5 billion reduction in revenues over 6 years there and now the state is working to reverse those mistakes. 

“Obviously, it was a political situation and they got a huge tax cut they couldn’t afford,” Sen. Mike Hall said. He's the co-chair of the Joint Committee on Tax Reform.

Hall said Monday lawmakers are trying to put the politics aside to create a simpler tax code for individual tax payers as well as businesses, but notes they are not "trying to drive the state to bankruptcy."

During their next meeting, scheduled for June 9, the committee will hear from city and county governments on the taxation powers they have and whether those powers should be expanded. At a later meeting in June, lawmakers will focus solely on the state's real estate, including property, taxes.