CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – A driver of opportunity and jobs: This is what West Virginia Governor Jim Justice called his proposal on Monday to remove the state’s income tax during his first of several town halls to discuss the idea.
During his speech on the state of the state, the judiciary announced a proposal that a sin tax be imposed on things like soda and tobacco instead.
“My goal now is to cut your taxes,” Justice said. “There are a million different ways this can be done.”
While it will not be easy to admit the abandonment and that other taxes may need to be increased for the proposal to become a reality, the governor believes that there is no better time to act than now.
“People are looking to West Virginia now. People are now looking for West Virginia, ”Justice said as he spoke about the national attention West Virginia has received for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor says the state handled the pandemic in such a way that the nation “recovered” and became aware of the mountain state.
“I’m telling you and I want everyone to hear me loud and clear. If we don’t, we’ll regret it – forever,” Justice said.
The governor said Monday that his proposal includes a sales tax increase.
“We’ll have to do some of that. There is no question that we have to do some of this, ”he said when talking about raising taxes.
On Monday, the judiciary pointed out the benefits of abolishing income tax, which outweigh the disadvantages. The governor said: “At the end of the day, the net tax burden of the West Virgins will decrease.”
According to Justice, his proposal to increase sales tax focuses on “things that hurt us.” The two points the governor mentioned in the virtual town hall on Monday were tobacco and soft drinks.
As a next step in making the proposal a reality, Justice said, “Then I look to our natural resource partners to jump up and try to help us. Just help us a little. When things are really, really, really good. That’s coal, oil, and gas. And I look at our professionals who are doing well in their lives … and ask them to get involved and help just a little. “
The other increase the governor is proposing concerns the luxury tax.
During the town hall, Justice described the luxury tax as “a tax on an item you choose because you are rich in order to be able to buy a luxurious item”.
This tax would not include homes or vehicles, says the governor.
When asked how long it would take to abolish the income tax, Justice said he wants to cut the tax in half for all of West Virginia immediately and then halt efforts to “watch out for growth.” He said the half cut would be different from the first phase of the proposal.
The judiciary said he would “use this growth” to take the state “the rest of the way” without raising other taxes.
A resident of Fairmont, West Virginia asked the governor while at town hall:
“Are you ready to tell the people of West Virginia that the removal of income tax through increases in other taxes such as sales tax, reintroduction of food taxes, and the loss of government services such as snow removal, road maintenance, and helping children go to college?” the net tax burden in the upper income brackets can decrease?
Governor Justice answered the question by saying:
“No chance on the planet. You’ve seen me every day, you have enough sense to know what my heart is, and if I thought for a second that we were going to hurt the West Virgins down the line, you know, to help anyone – to none Case. A drop in services – ridiculous. There is no way in the world that I would be for the food tax. Definitely not on this planet. “
However, the judiciary followed up on that statement by saying the state must give people from other states in this upper income bracket an “incentive” to settle in West Virginia.
“We want you to come here, don’t we? We want them to bring their companies here. We want them to bring their wealth to West Virginia and make great things happen, ”Justice said. “The people came and cut our wood. They took incredible wealth and left. They came and mined our coal and mined our gas or whatever it is. They gained all kinds of wealth and left. “
When asked by a woman from Ripley about a possible alcohol tax not included in the soda and tobacco increase, Governor Justice said he would “do anything to increase the alcohol tax,” but doesn’t know “whether it can is. ” help us a lot ”, but to“ help us a bit, I would absolutely be for it. “
A man from Martinsburg also asked about an increase in gas tax. The governor replied:
“No, our gas tax is currently high enough, it doesn’t have to be higher at all.”
Treasury Secretary Dave Hardy was also present at City Hall. When asked if other states would be considered for a study of this proposed plan, Hardy replied:
“We looked at virtually every state and literally all 50 states through the tax foundation that we use for the main research platform,” Hardy said. “However, we have focused specifically on the nine states that do not have income tax. Many of these states that we knew beforehand, for example Florida, Wyoming, Nevada, South Dakota, but we also took a close look at Tennessee because Tennessee is, of course, like West Virginia in many ways. “
Currently, the governor said, income tax generates around $ 2.1 billion for the state, or around 43 percent of the annual budget. During his speech on the state of the state, he suggested closing this void by introducing, along with other budget changes, a wealth tax for the state’s highest earners. However, during his town hall on Monday, he said he made a mistake and did not want to use the term “wealth tax”.
Justice said Monday it will host several virtual town halls where West Virgins can ask questions about the possible abolition of income tax. The governor says he thinks the next one will be on Wednesday night.
Justice also says the numbers are not final.
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