CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The House took up the Senate income tax repeal bill today—which was mostly backed by Governor Jim Justice—and it was soundly rejected.
The vote was 0-100 against the bill.
The plan would have phased out the income tax in four years and would have raised the state sales tax to 8%. The Senate’s bill also taxed food and taxed professional services including advertising. Critics say it would have put too much tax burden on the poor and working-class, but the Governor still maintains that’s not true.
“If you believe in any way that I would be out trying to do something and it would hurt families of any level, then you’re wrong. There’s no way on God’s earth I would do that,” said Gov. Jim Justice.
West Virginia would have had the highest sales tax in the nation, and many counties already level an extra penny in local taxes. 29 of West Virginia’s 55 counties border another state, and critics said an increased sales tax would drive buying to those other states.
“Well it’s a complete shift, especially for the Northern Panhandle where I am from, and the Eastern Panhandle. Our bordering counties, it would just hit them very hard. And I think that most people looked at it and saw this laundry list of tax increases, and from they very get-go, they weren’t for it. The public at large is not for it,” said Minority Whip, Del. Shawn Fluharty, of Ohio County.
The Governor said the costs of the increased tax would have been offset by tax rebate checks to lower-income residents in addition to the elimination of their income tax.
The Governor is not giving up. He says he’ll take his income tax repeal plan on the road and try to sell it to average West Virginians. He says he’ll likely call a Special Session of the Legislature, perhaps later this year, and request another vote.