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W.Va. House Finance Committee originates bill to reduce personal income tax

Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 11:29 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The West Virginia House Finance Committee originated its own bill Monday evening intended to reduce the state personal income tax, but in a much different method than Gov. Jim Justice’s proposal.

According to the House communications director, the biggest difference between Justice’s plan and the new one is the governor’s plan includes a large number of tax hikes, and the new plan in the House has no tax increases but would require cuts.

Under that plan, the Legislature would have to make $150 million worth of cuts every year until the state income tax is gone.

At the same time the House Finance Committee was considering its new version, Justice was promoting his original plan to repeal the state’s income tax with business leaders, political figures, and even former political foes at the Cultural Center in Charleston -- touting the proposal as a way to attract people to the state.

“They will come,” Justice said. “If they come in an avalanche, great. If they come in a trickle, great. They will come, and with that, there will be many opportunities.”

An outline of the governor’s plan estimates initial personal income tax reductions totaling more than a billion dollars, but also tax increases of more than $900 million to make up for it on things like cigarettes, luxury items, and alcohol.

For example, the tax on each barrel of beer a brewery makes would shoot up by more than 400 percent.

Ray Frye, who owns Taps at Heritage in Huntington, is afraid that would be devastating.

“The industry has grown in the last four years, and with this tax, it’s really going to make their life hard, and I don’t know if they all can survive,” Frye said.

Those concerns would be moot under the House’s version of the bill. The question would shift to where the cuts would come from.

The House communications director says it’s possible but unlikely the governor’s version of the income tax plan could move forward now that this new version has been introduced.

Under the new version of the plan, lower tax brackets would be the first group eliminated from having to pay the state income tax.

Tuesday is day 42 of the 60-day legislative session.

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