50% income tax cut legislation passes W.Va. House

50% income tax cut legislation passes W.Va. House
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 2:17 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - More money in your wallet.

The West Virginia House of Delegates took action Wednesday to cut your income tax in half over three years. They did so with a 95-2 vote approving a tax plan set forth by Gov. Jim Justice.

“I came here to help small businesses, to help individuals and to lower taxes, and with the passage of this legislation, that’s what’s going to happen,” said Del. Chris Pritt, R-Kanawha. “We are going to have a more prosperous West Virginia.”

If passed, House Bill 2526, would enable taxpayers to see a 30% reduction when filing their state income tax return next year -- not this April. That would be followed by 10% cuts the next two years.

“It’s a billion dollars into your economy, into the hands of the people of West Virginia to be able to use as they see fit and not the state,” Del. Vernon Criss, R-Wood, told WSAZ NewsChannel 3.

Democrats argue the plan isn’t fair. They favored a total elimination of the income tax for those earning $80,000 or less annually.

“There won’t be tax on 72% of all West Virginia filers,” said Del. Larry Rowe, D-Kanawha, in arguing for his amendment. “That’s powerful. That says it all. That’s fair. That’s why the governor’s plan is not fair. It benefits the folks -- the more money you make, the bigger the break you get, and that’s not right.”

Rowe’s amendment rejected on a party line vote, yet he joined most Democrats and Republicans in voting for the governor’s tax cut.

The proposal now moves to the state Senate with potential opposition from skeptical Republicans.

Criss, chairman of the House Finance Committee, remains hopeful.

“I believe that their caucus is going to take a very hard look at this and probably pass it,” he said.

But that fate remains uncertain.

As a precaution, the House plan also sets aside $700 million from the upcoming budget surplus as a reserve fund to hedge against any unexpected decline in state revenues.

For his part, Gov. Justice issued a statement praising the House vote and encouraging the Senate to take quick action.

”It’s time we reward all the great West Virginians who have stayed the course through decades of being 50th,” the statement read. “It’s time we really, truly, help West Virginians combat the rampant inflation they’re seeing. We’ve worked really hard to turn our state around from deficits to major surpluses and now our state is blessed with an opportunity for prosperity and growth unlike any before in our history.”

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