CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – Governor Jim Justice began the discussion when he had a bill introduced that would phase out the state income tax over four years, but it would raise the consumer sales from 6 percent to 7.9 percent.
The State Senate also put forth a similar bill to phase out the income tax in four years, but its sales tax would be higher at 8.5 percent. The Senate also added a 2.5 percent tax on food bought at grocery stores, but that idea may be the poison pill.
“Absolutely, without any question, I am not for any level of food tax. Because I think that really, really hurts our people who are really having a tough way to go,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.
The Governor believes getting rid of the income tax will make West Virginia a more attractive place for people and companies to relocate. The state’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity agrees.
“We’re going to put more money back in the pockets of West Virginians. And that’s crucially important for reversing the trend that’s happened over many years, where more people leave our state then move to our state every year,” said Jason Huffman, Americans for Prosperity, WV Chapter.
The third bill comes from the House. It would eliminate the personal income tax over 12 years, but would not impose any new taxes. Surpluses and budget cuts would balance the books. The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy says all three bills, are strike outs.
“Three different plans to eliminate the personal income tax, and all of them ask low and middle income families to sacrifice in order to give much greater tax benefits to the highest income households,” said Kelly Allen, West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy.
The Center on Budget and Policy is pleased that Governor Justice is at least saying no, to any food tax.
“For all sides in the debate, the enemy is the clock. After today there are just five days left in the legislative session and it’s possible nothing will get done,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.