Tags: state | income | taxes | revenues

Conservatives Push End to Income Taxes in Several States

Monday, 07 Nov 2011 05:10 PM

By Greg McDonald

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Conservatives in several states are pushing to abolish state income taxes, but critics of the movement counter that revenues would have to be raised from other sources to avoid cuts in important government services.

Supporters of a constitutional amendment to ban the Missouri state income tax are collecting signatures to get the initiative on the ballot next year, according to a Stateline.org report.

In Oklahoma, meanwhile, Republican Gov. Mary Fallin and some key legislators are backing the idea, while in Kansas, GOP Gov. Sam Brownback is expected to unveil a plan in the next few weeks to cut tax rates with an eye toward doing killing them off down the road.

The movement comes at a time when more state legislatures are being taken over by conservative majorities that share the same view — that a tax essentially on wealth slows economic growth, according to Stateline. But the task could be difficult, given the strong opposition to the idea from businesses and other interests who fear that taxes and fees in other areas will have to be raised.

Alaska is the only state that has done away with its income tax during the past 31 years, and that was because the Alaska pipeline could provide billions in replacement revenue to help fund government programs.

At the moment, only nine states are income tax free, according to Stateline. Some of them are facing serious budget issues, but only Washington has tried to impose a new tax on personal income to help with funding gaps. Voters soundly rejected a move last year to tax state residents making more than $200,000 a year.

In Oklahoma, officials are mindful that eliminating a key source of revenue could backfire, especially if economic problems worsen.

“What we have to do is approach this taxation discussion responsibly and analytically and not ideologically,” Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller told Stateline. “We’ve been talking about this for years. Now we can actually accomplish it. It’s that, ‘Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.’ ”

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