The State Tax Reformers (More Governors look to repeal their income taxes)
Washington may be a tax reform wasteland, but out in the states the action is hot and heavy. Nine states—including such fast-growing places as Florida, Tennessee and Texas—currently have no income tax, and the race is on to see which will be the tenth, and perhaps the 11th and 12th.
Oklahoma and Kansas have lowered their income-tax rates in the last two years with an aim toward eliminating the tax altogether. North Carolina’s newly elected Republican Governor Pat McCrory has prioritized tax reform this year and wants to reduce the income tax. Ditto for another newcomer, Mike Pence of Indiana, who has called for a 10% income-tax rate cut. Susana Martinez, New Mexico’s Republican Governor, has called for slashing the state corporate tax to 4.9% from 7.6%, and the first Republican-controlled legislature since Reconstruction in Arkansas is considering chopping its tax rates by as much as half.
But those are warm-up acts compared to Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman’s announcement this month that he wants to eliminate the state income tax and replace it with a broader sales tax. “How many of you have sons and daughters, grandchildren, brothers and sisters and other family members who no longer live in Nebraska because they couldn’t find a job here or they couldn’t find the right career here in Nebraska?” he asked. He believes eliminating the income tax—with a top rate of 6.84%—will make the Cornhusker State a new magnet for jobs.
Then there’s Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who wants to zero out his state’s income tax (top rate 6%) and the 8% corporate tax and replace them by raising the state’s current 4% sales tax. He would also eliminate some 150 special interest exemptions from the sales tax, including massage parlors, art work and fishing boats.
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