Sheridan Nolen

Will New Hampshire Become the Next Right-to-Work State?

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Posted by Sheridan Nolen on Thursday, February 25th, 2021, 2:48 PM PERMALINK

New Hampshire may soon join the list of 27 right-to-work states, giving private sector workers the freedom to choose whether or not they join and pay dues to a union. This would be a huge win for employees across the Granite State and a boon to the economy. 

Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, public sector workers in New Hampshire and across the country are no longer forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment. That landmark victory for workplace freedom, however, did not apply to private sector unions. Private sector employees in states that do not have right-to-work laws in place still do not have this basic right to choose.  

But now that New Hampshire is back under Republican control, there is a strong chance that things will soon change. Sen. John Reagan’s Senate Bill 61, which was recently approved by the Senate in a 13-11 vote, would prohibit collective bargaining agreements from including mandatory union dues, making New Hampshire the 28th right-to-work state. This commonsense law, if enacted, would give New Hampshire private sector workers the freedom to exercise their First Amendment right to decide to associate or not associate with an organization and give them the option to keep more of their hard-earned paychecks. 

In addition, SB 61 is also smart economic policy. Scholarly research over the years has found that right-to-work states are more prosperous than forced-unionism states. The National Institute for Labor Relations Research, for example, found that the percentage growth in the number of people employed from 2009-2019 was 16.9% for right-to-work states and just 9.6% in forced unionism states.  

These findings are not surprising. Right-to-work laws make states significantly more attractive to businesses looking to expand. John Boyd, founder of the Boyd Company, a business consulting firm that advises where to make job-creating investments, explained that right-to-work is a “common denominator among states attracting both aerospace and other types of advanced manufacturing.” 

“I believe right-to-work, along with lower business taxes and workers compensation costs, will make New Hampshire more competitive and attractive to grow and locate a business,” said Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, who is a cosponsor of the bill. 

Joining Sen. Reagan and Leader Bradley as co-sponsors of SB 61 are Senate President Chuck Morse, Sen. Gary Daniels, Sen. Bill Gannon, Sen. James Gray, Sen. Harold French, Rep. Richard Marston, Rep. Carol McGuire, Rep. Alicia Lekas, and Rep. James Spillane. SB 61 has been placed at the top of House Speaker Sherman Packard’s legislative agenda and Gov. Chris Sununu, a longtime supporter of right-to-work laws, is expected to sign the bill into law if it reaches his desk.  

Finally making New Hampshire a right-to-work state would be a win for all residents of the Granite State. It would give private sector employees the freedom to choose how they wish to assemble and allow them to keep more of their hard-earned paychecks, while also attracting new jobs and opportunities. 

Photo Credit: James Walsh

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Two Massive Tax Hikes at Stake in Pennsylvania Budget Fight

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Posted by Sheridan Nolen on Wednesday, February 24th, 2021, 11:10 AM PERMALINK

Despite the grueling effects of the pandemic-induced recession, Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania has proposed the largest tax hike in Pennsylvania history in his executive budget.  

The budget proposal includes a massive, job-killing 46% increase in the state income tax. 

Gov. Wolf’s proposed income tax hike would dramatically affect working middle-class families, financially at-risk Pennsylvanians, and small businesses. Although he suggested that there would be a “tax forgiveness” program as part of the proposal, families at the median family income (fewer than five children) would still pay more. Even with tax forgiveness, residents will still have to pay $232 each, or $927 per family of four, on average.  

This tax hike proposal would be also be detrimental to local, small businesses that already pay the state’s Personal Income Tax. From maintaining and extended, onerous shutdown, to vetoing limited liability protection legislation so businesses could operate without fear of incessant lawsuits, Gov. Wolf has proved himself to be a governor who does not look out for small businesses. Instead, he wants them to pay more taxes as they attempt to recover from the pandemic.  

Also included in the budget proposal is a severance tax on the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania, the nation’s second-largest natural gas producer. This would be a double-tax, as Pennsylvania already imposes and impact fee on natural gas extraction. 

Gov. Wolf thinks imposing a severance tax would help Pennsylvanians “come out of this pandemic pretty much faster than anything else,” but this is untrue. According to last year’s Pennsylvania Energy Employment Report, natural gas employment in the state declined by 7.4%. A natural gas severance tax would kill more energy jobs and hinder the state from recovering.  

Gov. Wolf has advocated for a severance tax in each of his budgets for the last six years and has failed each time; it also remains widely unpopular among the Republican-controlled House and Senate.  

Even with these proposed tax hikes, Gov. Wolf is still likely to find ways to overspend and put Pennsylvania deeper into debt. Since he took office in 2015, spending in Pennsylvania has dramatically accelerated and increased by more than $24.5 billion (more than $1,900 per person) and two of the last six budget cycles have yielded tax increases. Despite these tax increases, Gov. Wolf has continued to overspend the approved budget ($400 million in 2016–2017, $673 million in 2018–2019, and more than $1 billion in 2019–2020).  

Gov. Wolf signed a late budget without any tax hikes in the final weeks of 2020, but it still contained a 4% spending increase from the year prior and failed to restrict supplemental appropriations. Although Gov. Wolf pushes for tax increases, citing the need for them to provide sufficient revenue for the state, he continues to ask the legislature for supplemental funding. Lawmakers and taxpayers should expect another hefty supplemental request – as it appears that no amount of money will be enough.   

According to a report by Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office, it is projected that it will take about six years for employment to recover from the pandemic-induced recession and strict lockdowns imposed by the Wolf Administration. That's far too long for families and small businesses in the Keystone State who need immediate economic recovery.  

Pennsylvania legislators should reject Governor Wolf’s massive tax hike proposals.  

Photo Credit: Governor Tom Wolf

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Indiana State Reps Break No-Tax Commitment for Second Time

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Posted by Sheridan Nolen on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021, 5:22 PM PERMALINK

On Monday, the Indiana House of Representatives passed House Bill 1001, a $36 billion two-year state budget that includes tax hikes on cigarettes and vaping. Under HB 1001, the cigarette tax would increase from $1 to $1.50 and a 10% retail tax would be imposed on e-cigarettes and e-liquids.  

Among the 95 representatives who voted for the cigarette and vape tax hike included in HB 1001, 16 were Taxpayer Protection Pledge signees. Out of those 16, 12 have previously broken their pledge by voting in favor of a gas tax hike in 2017.  

The following Republican House lawmakers broke their promise to voters not once, but twice, by supporting tax hikes on Hoosiers:  

Representative Robert Behning (R-91) 

Representative Timothy Brown (R-41) 

Representative Martin Carbaugh (R-81) 

Representative Bob Cherry (R-53) 

Representative Steven Davisson (R-73) 

Representative Jeff Ellington (R-62) 

Representative Bob Heaton (R-46) 

Representative Todd Huston (R-37) 

Representative Don Lehe (R-25) 

Representative Jim Lucas (R-69) 

Representative Jerry Torr (R-39) 

Representative Cindy Ziemke (R-55) 

You can see the list of those who broke their pledge by voting for a gas tax increase in 2017 here

 

Photo Credit: Judy van der Velden

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Maryland: First State in the Nation to Impose Job Killing Digital Ad Tax

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Posted by Sheridan Nolen on Wednesday, February 17th, 2021, 2:26 PM PERMALINK

In a devastating blow to Maryland businesses and consumers, the democrat-led state legislature voted to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of HB 732 last week. Maryland now has the unwelcome distinction of being home to the nation’s first ever digital advertising tax. 

Under the guise of squeezing revenue from Big Tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, HB 732 will impose between a 2.5% and 10% tax on revenues generated from digital advertising services in Maryland. Unfortunately, Maryland-based businesses and taxpayers are going to bear the burden of this new tax, which is anticipated to amount to a whopping $250 million a year.  

“This new tax will certainly be a headache for these tech companies, but the cost of the tax itself as well as the associated compliance costs will ultimately be passed onto Maryland businesses,” explained Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “As a result, these businesses may have to lower wages, cut hours, or raise prices on consumers, which is the last thing Maryland needs after nearly a year of COVID-19.” 

"The digital ad tax is regressive and will be felt by those who can least afford it, especially right now. For small businesses fighting to survive during COVID-19, this vote sends a chilling message about the priorities of those in power,” said Doug Mayer, a spokesman for Marylanders for Tax Fairness, following the veto override.  

Another argument against HB 732 is that it will likely to result in Maryland taxpayers footing the bill for costly legal challenges that bill is unlikely to survive. In fact, in a legal review of HB 732 last year, Attorney General Brian Frosh stated that the bill was “not clearly constitutional” and highlighted potential problems the state would face if it had to defend the measure in court.  

First, the bill could be challenged as a violation of the Dormant Commerce Clause, which prohibits states from discriminating against different types of interstate commerce. The bill contains a provision to exclude Maryland-based businesses from the tax and it only includes certain types of advertising while excluding others. Second, the digital advertisement tax is likely a violation of the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which prohibits discriminatory taxes on e-commerce. And third, this bill could also be a violation of the First Amendment because it taxes speech.  

Unfortunately, the bad news with HB 732 does not end there. It would also place a $1.75 sales tax increase per pack of cigarettes and raise the sales tax on e-cigarettes and vaping liquids. Tax hikes on tobacco and vaping products will disproportionately impact some of Maryland’s most vulnerable taxpayers when they can least afford it. According to the National Adult Tobacco Surveys, 72% of smokers are from low-income communities. HB 732 increases taxes on people unable to quit as they are struggling with the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic and puts unnecessary hardship on struggling families. 

Democrats in the state legislature seemed to have forgotten sage advice from former President Obama. While in office, he remarked: "The last thing you want to do is raise taxes in the middle of a recession because that would just suck up, take more demand out of the economy and put businesses in a further hole." 

With the enactment of HB 732, state lawmakers have made it increasingly more difficult for small business owners and hardworking taxpayers to overcome the financial burden of the pandemic. Fortunately, there is still some hope for taxpayers in Maryland, as the legality of the digital advertising tax portion of the bill is likely to be challenged in court.  

Photo Credit: Bonnie Natko

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Will Kansas Governor Laura Kelly Block This Commonsense Pro-Taxpayer Bill Again?

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Posted by Sheridan Nolen on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021, 1:49 PM PERMALINK

Last week, the Kansas Senate approved a package of tax cuts and measures that would finally allow Kansans to benefit from the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 and eliminate state taxes on Social Security benefits and some pensions.  

Senate Bill 22, or the RELIEF Act, would allow Kansans to take itemized state deductions regardless of whether the standard deduction is claimed for federal income tax purposes. Victims of identity theft would not have to pay income taxes on fraudulent unemployment claims going to other people. In addition, it includes provisions to "decouple" state and federal income taxes. Social Security and retirement income would also be exempt from being taxed. 

The TCJA was signed into law three years ago by former-President Trump in December 2017 and many states have already changed their tax codes to conform to the federal changes. However, Kansas has not. In fact, nearly two years ago, the legislature brought forth a measure similar to SB 22 that would have allowed Kansas to conform with the federal tax code, but Gov. Kelly vetoed it. As a result, Kansans have been paying more in taxes than they should be.  

A majority of Republicans showed overwhelming approval for the bill, citing that it would provide taxpayers and business owners relief after they started paying more taxes in the federal tax code. Among those praising the legislation is Sen. Caryn Tyson, Chair of the Committee on Assessment and Taxation. “It allows Kansas taxpayers to get the money that they were meant to get in the first place,” said Sen. Tyson. She even suggested calling it a tax increase every time Gov. Kelly vetoes one of these bills.  

Almost every state has taken action to adjust their state tax codes following the recent changes to the federal tax code.  

Photo Credit: F McGady

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Will This Indiana Legislator Break Her Promise to Oppose Tax Hikes a Second Time?

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Posted by Sheridan Nolen on Thursday, February 4th, 2021, 3:41 PM PERMALINK

In 2017, Indiana State Representative Cindy Ziemke, broke the pledge she made to her voters to oppose any, and all tax increases when she voted in favor of a 34% tax increase in the state gas tax. 

Now, she is setting the stage for a second pledge-breaking vote, by sponsoring a bill that would hurt businesses and families and would increase the highly regressive tax on vaping and cigarettes.  

The bill, HB 1434, would nearly double the tax on cigarettes from $1 to $1.995 per pack of regular size cigarettes and make a corresponding increase for larger cigarettes. It also adds a tax on e-liquids, used for e-cigarettes, at a rate of $0.08 per milliliter – some of the highest in the country.  

HB 1434 is bound to have unintended consequences that would dramatically, and disproportionately, harm Indiana’s most vulnerable taxpayers when they can least afford it.  

The National Adult Tobacco Surveys has demonstrated that tobacco tax increases do not impact the prevalence of smoking among individuals with household incomes less than $25,000, meaning this bill will do absolutely nothing to affect smoking rates.  

Increasing the tax on cigarettes would also grow lucrative criminal cigarette smuggling in Indiana. In fact, Indiana’s high tobacco tax neighbors – Michigan and Illinois – have actually seen 20% of the market consisting of illicit tobacco.  

HB 1434 also hurts Hoosiers who are trying to quit smoking. E-cigarettes have been found to be 95% safer than combustible tobacco and are twice as effective as more traditional nicotine replacement therapies. When Minnesota imposed a tax on these products, the policy ended up disincentivizing 32,400 additional adult smokers from quitting. In a large-scale analysis by the by the nation’s leading cancer researchers, and coordinated by Georgetown University Medical Center, close to 150,000 lives would be saved if a majority of Indiana smokers made the switch to vaping.  

Rep. Ziemke should recommit to her promise to oppose tax increases on Hoosiers, and reconsider supporting tax hike legislation that would have so many negative consequences.  

Photo Credit: Sean Molin

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California Admits Up to $31 Billion Sent to Fraudsters and Foreign Criminal Rings

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Posted by Sheridan Nolen on Thursday, January 28th, 2021, 3:25 PM PERMALINK

Already facing a growing recall effort for his despicable leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom can add failing to protect the tax dollars of hardworking Californians to his administration’s laundry-list of pandemic failures. According to the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (CLWDA), $31 billion in unemployment funds may have been sent to fraudsters.

"Of the $114 billion in unemployment paid by California since March, approximately 10% has been confirmed as fraudulent. An additional 17% of the paid claims have been identified as potentially fraudulent,” said CLWDA Secretary Julie Su.

This month, California had estimated that $10 billion in unemployment benefits were sent fraudulently, including some funds being received by organized crime groups in Russia and China. Initial estimates in October 2020 were $4 billion.

"There is no sugar-coating the reality: California did not have sufficient security measures in place to prevent this level of fraud," Su said. She also added that foreign and national criminal rings are working relentlessly behind the scenes to steal unemployment benefits using sophisticated methods of identity theft.

Widespread unemployment fraud is by no means new in California. Before the pandemic, the state revealed more than 8% of all jobless claims paid between 2016 to 2019 went to scammers. If anything, Secretary Su should have acted sooner to protect taxpayers by improving the security of the state’s unemployment system.

Unfortunately, given that President Biden plans to nominate Su for Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, it seems unpromising that swift, effective action will be taken to fight unemployment fraud at the federal level. While California Democrats House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Senator Alex Padilla are calling on President Biden to establish a federal task force to assist states in addressing the issue, President Biden will be bringing the very person who contributed to the problem into his administration.

Thankfully, many Californians could be heading back to work soon. On Monday, Gov. Newsom lifted the state’s stay-at-home order after months of imposing some of the harshest, job-killing virus restrictions in the entire country. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Golden State had an unemployment rate of 9% for the month of December.

Gov. Newsom’s oppressive, baseless coronavirus restrictions have caused irreparable harm to millions of Californians. Now, taxpayer dollars are not even going into the pockets of those suffering from his mistakes – or even United States citizens'.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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Gov. Kristi Noem Assures Taxpayers That She Will Keep South Dakota a Low Tax State

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Posted by Sheridan Nolen on Tuesday, January 26th, 2021, 4:52 PM PERMALINK

Gov. Kristi Noem – one of 13 governors who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a written commitment to taxpayers that she will oppose and veto any and all tax increases – reminded South Dakotans once again that there will be no tax increases under her watch.   

“We don’t have a corporate income tax. There is no business inventory tax. We have no personal income tax. We also do not have a personal property tax or an inheritance tax,” explained Gov. Noem in her State of the State Address. “The taxes that we do have to fund state government are stable and predictable. In short, for those who might be worried about tax increases, you do not need to be.” 

South Dakota is one of nine states that do not tax wage income and one of six states without a corporate income tax. No wonder it ranks second best in the Tax Foundation’s 2021 Business Tax Climate Index. 

Thanks to Gov. Noem, this pro-taxpayer, bro-business record will not be changing anytime soon. “As I told you all last month, we’re in a much stronger financial position than other states across the country,” explained Noem. “States that shut down their economies are now looking at tax increases or drastic spending cuts to make ends meet.” 

Throughout the pandemic, Gov. Noem refused to cave to outside pressure to shut down South Dakota. This has resulted in South Dakota having one of the strongest economies coming out of the pandemic. In fact, by keeping the state open, South Dakota’s tourism industry held its own over the course of the pandemic in comparison to other states.  

The tourism industry accounts for 11% of state sales tax collections and supports 1 out of 12 jobs for South Dakotans. Because Gov. Noem kept the state open for business, “tourism generated $276 million in state & local tax revenue” and South Dakotans stayed employed. While most states, on average, saw tourism spending decline 45% in 2020, South Dakota only declined by 18%.  

In addition to protecting taxpayers, Gov. Noem has also made expanding access to health care a top priority for the 2021 legislative session. To fight the coronavirus, Gov. Noem issued a number of emergency orders that removed government barriers to quality care. In a press release, she recently announced that she will be introducing two pieces of legislation that make these reforms permanent.  

The first bill is based on Executive Order 2020-07, which increased access to telemedicine. “We greatly expanded telehealth in 2020. Since March, people have used tech services like these more than 70,000 times in South Dakota’s Medicaid program alone,” explained Governor Noem. 

Thanks to Gov. Noem’s telemedicine order, patients were able to receive telehealth treatment from a new health care provider without the hassle of having an in-person appointment first, providers were allowed to prescribe certain medications through telehealth, and the audio-visual requirement for telehealth was eliminated.  

Gov. Noem’s second bill is modeled after Executive Order 2020-16, which allowed South Dakota to recognize certain out-of-state healthcare licenses. “As freedom-loving Americans from around the country continue moving to South Dakota, we can address workforce shortages by recognizing the good work that they did in other states and welcoming them to continue their work by serving South Dakotans,” she explained.  

Gov. Noem’s leadership and commitment to protecting taxpayers makes South Dakota one of the most promising places for investment in the nation. With Gov. Noem keeping taxes low and deregulating the healthcare industry, South Dakota will continue to thrive through the pandemic and beyond. 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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Kansas Governor Wants to Tax Your Netflix & Online Shopping In Midst of Pandemic

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Posted by Sheridan Nolen on Monday, January 25th, 2021, 6:21 PM PERMALINK

Instead of making it easier for millions of Kansans to make ends meet and recover from the pandemic, Gov. Laura Kelly is pushing a tax-and-spend agenda during the pandemic-induced recession in her new proposed budget

Nearly 2 million Kansans use digital streaming services. If her proposed budget is passed, the state’s sales tax will be applied to digital products and streaming services. In other words, every time a person purchases a Netflix, Spotify, or Hulu subscription, a sales tax would be applied to that transaction. If someone were to purchase a digital book, video game, smartphone application, or magazine download, it would be taxed as well.  

Gov. Kelly’s budget also codifies an Internet Sales Tax that she was previously pushing to collect unconstitutionally (using legislation that did not comply with the Supreme Court’s Wayfair v. South Dakota decision).

Kansas currently has the 8th highest combined state and average local sales tax rate in the country, sitting at 8.69%.    

Kelly is pushing for tax hikes because she wants to significantly increase spending to a record $7.9 billion, and increase pension debt. She is doing all of this despite the fact Kansans are struggling with a weak economy and uncertainty due to the pandemic. 

A “Netflix tax” would affect millions of taxpayers in Kansas, considering virtually everyone uses digital products and streaming services – especially during the pandemic. While countless Kansans have been forced to spend more time at home, they have looked to digital streaming services and other digital products as a source of entertainment.  

Instead of looking for ways to boost Kansas’ economy during the recession by cutting taxes and reducing government spending, Gov. Kelly wants to impose a sales tax that capitalizes on Kansans just trying to stay safe at home through the pandemic.  

Photo Credit: Stock Catalog

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Gov. Kim Reynolds Wants to Deliver Tax Relief in 2021

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Posted by Sheridan Nolen on Thursday, January 21st, 2021, 4:03 PM PERMALINK

Taxpayers across the country are very likely to face a number of federal tax increases in the coming year. At least for taxpayers in Iowa, they can rest assured that they will not be facing any tax hikes at the state-level.

In her Condition of the State Address, Gov. Kim Reynolds assured Iowans that they would not see any state tax increases this year. “And remember, that unlike many states we’re starting from a good financial position,” explained Gov. Reynolds. “We aren’t looking at tough budget cuts and we’re certainly not looking at raising taxes.”

And making that promise even better, Gov. Reynolds said she would like to build on her pro-taxpayer reputation by delivering more tax relief. In 2018, Gov. Reynolds signed the largest state tax cut in Iowa history into law. Once fully implemented, that pro-growth tax reform package will provide Iowans with $2.1 billion in tax relief.

That tax law reduced the rate of every single one of Iowa's nine individual income tax brackets. This has been a huge win for individual taxpayers and families, as it allowed them to keep more of their hard-earned paychecks. It was also a big victory for small businesses, which file their taxes under the individual code, as it allowed them to invest more resources in jobs and higher wages.

In 2023, that law could do even more to help taxpayers and make Iowa a more attractive place to live, invest, and do business. Once fully implemented, it will reduce the number of individual income tax brackets from nine to four and lower the top rate from 8.53 percent to 6.5 percent. The catch here is that this component of the bill is subject to certain revenue triggers being met. While official projections have Iowa coming very close to reaching those triggers, if they fall even the slightest bit short, the tax cuts will be delayed.

Gov. Reynolds would like to guarantee that relief is provided and maybe go even further. “If anything, we need to continue the conversation about cutting taxes, and we can start by getting rid of the unnecessary triggers that were put in place in 2018,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Let’s make Iowa more competitive and guarantee our taxpayers that they can keep more of their hard-earned money.”

At present, Iowa’s top marginal individual income tax rate – the part of the income tax that is most commonly used to make decisions about investment – is in the top 10 highest in the country. To ensure that Iowa definitely becomes more competitive, Gov. Reynolds, at minimum, would like to remove the triggers to make sure the promised cuts take effect.

Even better news for Iowans is that newly elected Senate President Jake Chapman has always viewed tax relief as a top priority. In a recent interview with The Gazette, President Chapman explained:

“Now more than ever is when we need to be implementing tax cuts. We need to stir our economy as never before, and one of the ways we do that is through tax cuts. I’m talking about individual tax cuts, I’m talking about people who are paying capital gains, who are wanting to bring their business back or start a business. This is the time to really focus on how we can begin to implement tax cuts that will lead to the total elimination of income tax. My hope is that we do focus on how we can reduce taxes and eventually eliminate the income tax.”

Reducing and phasing out the state income tax would be a huge win for all Iowans. Putting the income tax on the path to zero would allow Iowa to compete with more states for businesses looking to expand, investors looking for growing economies, and families looking for better opportunities – all of which would bring new jobs and higher wages to the state.

Photo Credit: Iowa Public Radio Images

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