CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — One of the biggest fights this year will be the ongoing battle to repeal the state’s Business Inventory Tax. Only 14 states levy this tax, and critics say it discourages out-of-state businesses from moving here.
“I think it’s definitely a tax that needs to be reformed. I think It needs to be removed. I mean you talk to job creators, and they always consistently point to the inventory tax as something that stands in their way,” said Garrett Ballengee, Executive Director of the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy.
Supporters of the statewide tax, which is then divided up by local governments, wonder how those local governments will pay their bills without the revenue.
“The business personal property tax is critical, it’s a critical source of funding for county and municipal budgets, especially for our public education system. And we don’t think it’s prudent to keep doubling down on failed corporate tax breaks,” said Seth Distefano, the Policy Outreach Director at the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.
Instead, the West Virginia Center on Budget Policy wants an increase in the severance tax for natural gas production to help pay for state services. Severance taxes currently have the state’s revenue picture on a roller-coaster.
“We also need to start making investments in our people, in things like comprehensive broadband coverage, more investments in education,” said Seth Distefano
But the Cardinal Institute believes raising the natural gas production tax is a bad idea since many states don’t do it.
“Would it put West Virginia at a competitive disadvantage in the long run? There’s little doubt in that,” said Ballengee.
The 60-day legislative session begins on January 8, 2020. Cutting or raising taxes is always a difficult political proposition. But 2020 is also an election year so anything involving taxes could be an uphill fight.