CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – On Inside West Virginia Politics, we’re talking taxes, specifically what West Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s tax plan would mean for businesses and consumers in the Mountain State. We also take a look at some legislative plans to help keep West Virginia’s youth interested in staying in the state.

Gov. Justice’s tax plan: What will it mean for West Virginians and the sales tax?

In Segment 1, Jim Justice joins us to discuss his tax plan. The goal of that plan is to eventually phase out the state’s income tax beginning with a 60% cut next year and then gradually phasing out over the next three years. The plan would also mean raising the state’s sales tax from 6% to 7.9% to make up for the lost income tax revenue. West Virginia would then have the highest sales tax of any state in the country.

The governor says even with increases to other taxes, the plan would put money in the pockets of every West Virginian as well as bringing people to the state, increasing wages and increasing home values.

Critics, however, worry raising the sales tax would put the burden of the sales tax on middle and lower class income households. Justice says the concern is “totally backwards,” and the tax increase would not create this issue.

For more information on Justice’s tax plan, visit the governor’s website.


Increasing the sales tax: Would West Virginia be competitive in businesses?

In Segment 2, West Virginia Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts says the chamber is still evaluating the governor’s tax plan. The chamber is looking at the lengthy Senate bill to find any nuances and reading the 77-page analysis of what the bill would say.

According to Roberts, the chamber has long said they want the state to be competitive in all areas, including tax, which he says should also include examining the income tax. Roberts says West Virginia has a higher personal income tax than any of the surrounding states.

He also says the chamber is concerned about the possibility of raising the state’s sales tax because more than half of the population lives in a border county and could start shopping in their neighboring states to avoid the high tax.

For more information, visit www.wvchamber.com.


How would increasing West Virginia’s sales tax impact small businesses?

In Segment 3, Jared Walczak, vice president for state projects for the Tax Foundation, joins us from Washington, D.C. to discuss the proposed tax reforms in the Mountain State. The nonpartisan organization works independently to evaluate tax policy and then renders its verdict.

Walczak says it’s great West Virginia is having discussions about making the state more competitive, and that Governor Jim Justice “rightly recognizes” that the state’s income tax should be part of that conversation.

However, he says the foundation is concerned that the current plan shifts a lot of the burden to alleviate the state’s income tax to small businesses. He says the established local taxes on top of the state sales tax could also make the rate higher than the proposed 7.9% in some cases. He also called the proposed advertising tax a “bad idea” because it could cause “strange disparities” between West Virginia businesses and their out-of-state competitors.

For more information, visit www.taxfoundation.org.


What will keep young West Virginians from leaving the state?

In Segment 4, West Virginia Delegate Sean Hornbuckle (D-Cabell) discusses some bills aimed at keeping young West Virginians from leaving the Mountain State.

He says this includes Delegate Shawn Fluharty’s (D-Ohio) Stay in the State Act, which is geared at keeping West Virginia’s best and brightest in the state. Hornbuckle has also sponsored a bill called the Young Professionals Tax Credit, which aims to both young people in the state and attract out-of-state youth to come to West Virginia by recognizing what they have in student loans and child care.

Hornbuckle also says a major focus of bringing young people to the state is education and making sure the state has the aptitude to attract some of the jobs.

For more information on these bills, visit www.wvlegislature.gov.