WV Center On Budget and Policy: State Should Make Tax System More Fair
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - As West Virginia lawmakers consider reforming the state's tax code, the West Virginia Center On Budget and Policy is arguing that it needs to be made fairer to low- and middle-income families.
Over time, said Ted Boettner, executive director of the center, the state's tax system gradually has come to favor the wealthy.
"West Virginia has an upside-down tax system," he said. "If you look at who pays taxes here in our state, (it) turns out that the middle-class and low-income families pay a larger share of their incomes in state and local taxes than the wealthiest households in the state."
Republican legislative leaders have said they might consider getting rid of the state's income tax. Boettner said that could well make the tax system even less fair by putting more reliance on the sales tax, which lands hardest on the poor.
Boettner said one problem is that, with inflation, tax brackets designed to apply to the rich now apply to workers in the middle class. He said the highest state income-tax rates hit a plateau and now reach fairly low into the income spectrum.
"So, more and more middle-income people are falling into that high rate," he said. "The higher-income people aren't paying their fair share, even though they're the ones that have benefited from all of the growth over this period."
Twenty-five states now have a state version of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, a policy that economists say has been very effective in helping the working poor. Boettner said he thinks West Virginia also should have a state EITC, in part because it would help children in low-income families get a better start and be more productive, long-term.
"One thing we could do on the bottom end is to have a refundable Earned Income Tax Credit," he said. "At the higher end, we can have higher rates on those at the very top, those that have benefited the most from economic growth over the last 30 years."
A legislative special committee on tax reform is discussing the issues now.
More information is online at wvpolicy.org.
get more stories like this via email
BOISE, Idaho -- Wildfires are affecting air quality across the West, bringing hidden dangers in smoke that can harm people's health. The Boise-based …
DENVER -- The days of exponentially high increases in health-insurance costs may finally be in the rearview mirror. The Colorado Division of …
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Cultural institutions in the U.S. are facing scrutiny to be more accessible and inclusive. The organization in charge of Iowa's …
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Last month's deadly heat wave in the Northwest underscored the need to reduce carbon emissions, but advocates want to ensure low-…
MINOT, N.D. -- Many arguments are being floated about legislation before Congress that would bring big changes to U.S. labor laws. The bill has its …
Health and Wellness
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Health-care advocates called on Missouri lawmakers to allocate funds for Medicaid expansion right away, after the state …
AUGUSTA, Maine -- School meals in Maine will be free for all students again this year and into the future, but parents are being urged to fill out …
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A report outlines how federal efforts to bring solar energy to one in four American households could bring clean energy to …