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Justice town hall pushes elimination of income tax

Calls for increases in sales tax, taxes on coal, soda, cigarettes

(Photo Illustration)

CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice hosted a virtual town hall Monday regarding his proposal to eliminate the state personal income tax and answered questions from the public.

Justice said the elimination of income tax will not only be beneficial to reduce the tax burden on residents, but will also make the state more appealing for out-of-state residents and businesses to move in as well.

Justice and his staff have been researching all 50 states for a tax foundation, but zeroed in on the nine states that didn’t have any income tax, according to W.Va. Department of Revenue cabinet secretary Dave Hardy.

Out of those nine states, Tennessee was the most comparable state due to the geographic similarities between the two states.

“We looked at virtually every state for the tax foundation, which is what we use for our main research platform, but we specifically zeroed in on the nine states that don’t have an income tax,” Hardy said. “We looked at everything, and we tried to sample every state we could find and pick the best things. Also keeping in mind that we wanted to tailor any ideas that we have to West Virginia, and its unique demographics, population, and its unique household income.”

Justice said the state should continue to build off the nationwide success of how it handled the COVID-19 pandemic, stating that the economics of the state are strong and no income taxes will be beneficial for residents to have more funds to support themselves and more opportunities for high-paying local jobs.

To balance the income tax cut, Justice anticipated changes in severance taxes on production of coal, oil and natural gas. He’s calling for an increase of 1.5% to 1.9% in sales taxes for all residents as well as taxes on tobacco and soda.

Justice said there could be an unspecified tax on some professional services. He anticipates a luxury-type tax on any purchased item of least $5,000, excluding homes and cars.

“With all the great news on how we have handled the pandemic and people looking at West Virginia, if we get on a pathway to extinguish our state income tax,” Justice said. “Mark it down, it will drive incredible opportunities right here in West Virginia. It will drive job opportunities beyond belief. It will drive the ability for wages to increase substantially, it will help our schools, it will drive up property values.”

Justice said there will be plans to have an additional virtual town hall to answer more questions in the coming months

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)

Contact Tyler Bennett at tbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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