The legislative committee studying tax “reform” —  most significantly meaning a search for ways to cut income taxes — continues its work today and you’d do well to take a look at the lengthy list of items under discussion.

The governor’s nephew, Sen. Jim Hendren, is driving this train and today’s meeting includes what he calls final options for income tax changes. There’s a big difference in the two. Both would reduce the top tax rate from 6.9 to 6.4 percent on income above $80,000 ($160,000 for a married couple of income earners filing separately on the same form). But one would cost $276 million in tax cuts and one would cost $125 million in tax cuts. The lower figure? It would come by INCREASING the tax rate planned to take effect Jan. 1 for people making less than $21,000 a year.


You read that right. There’s a proposal on the table to increase taxes on poor people to help offset the cost of giving a whopping tax cut to the rich.

In 2012, the last year for which the state Finance and Administration Department has been willing to provide me figures, more than 11,000 taxpayers reported income of more than $250,00. They paid more than $440 million in taxes. A 5.7 percent cut in the top rate would be worth roughly $25 million, or a couple thousand bucks each on average.  While socking $100 million in new taxes on poor people, working out to a couple hundred dollars for someone making $21,000? Breathtaking. The good news is that the option to raise taxes on the poor would take a three-fourths vote. This is why elections matter.


Click the paper clip emblem next to the word agenda for the tax reform commission to see everything under discussion today. In addition to a cut in the top tax rate for corporations:

Sen. Missy Irvin proposes to put a tax on electric vehicles since they don’t pay fuel taxes (and given their weight do almost no damage to roads unlike, say, trucks that don’t pay their fair share of interstate destruction). Electric owners do pay sales taxes on electricity, unlike, say, gasoline users.


Sin tax increases — cigarettes and alcohol — are on the agenda, including finding a way to tax e-cigarettes. Sen. Joyce Elliott is proposing a state earned income tax credit, 15 percent of the federal credit, for low-income workers.

Hendren has filed a proposal to repeal the outrageous total capital gains tax exemption given a few years ago to gains over $10 million — a break for the richest of the rich.