OWENSBORO, Ky. (4/12/13) – Kentucky’s existing tax code creates a lack of “fairness” for taxpayers, and proposed reforms are before the Kentucky legislature for its consideration to adjust those imbalances.
That was the message from John Williams during the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce’s Rooster Booster monthly meeting, held at Owensboro Christian Church on Thursday morning, April 11.
Kentuckians in the lowest income bracket pay 10.8 percent in taxes on average, while people in the highest income bracket pay 5.1 percent in taxes on average. Williams said that is something the committee he worked with hopes its recommendations will change to make the system more equitable.
Williams said “the biggest single comprehensive” challenge for Kentucky’s tax system is the need to adjust “allocations of tax income on businesses.” He said businesses that operate in multiple states are assigned an inventory tax that is “anti-competitive.”
Other tax changes proposed include a proposed one percent sales tax on consumable services with 100 percent of the proceeds from that tax going to the state’s SEEK formula, which pays school districts based on enrollment and attendance populations; a 40-cent tax increase on cigarettes, bringing the tax amount to $1 per pack; eliminating itemized deductions on income tax; and prorating taxes on retirement income on an individual basis. Williams said people who collect more than $30,000 at retirement would be expected to pay taxes, but anyone with less than that amount would be exempt.
“Those of us who can afford it can pay our fair share,” he said.
So far, only 11 of the 54 recommendations have been approved by the general assembly, including the allowance of tax credit on automobiles when trading in a vehicle. The rest are expected to be considered as part of the general assembly’s agenda when it convenes in special session later this year. All told, Williams said, the entire tax package would generate approximately $600 million in new revenue for Kentucky.
Also during the Rooster Booster breakfast, Greater Owensboro EDC President Nicholas Brake told the audience he thinks it’s time to start looking at “what’s next” for the city of Owensboro and Daviess County.
“What’s next in the context of the next generation?” he asked. “What do we want the community to look like or be like 25 to 50 years down the road? How do we remain competitive?”
Brake said the first area the community needs to consider is energy, especially in the wake of the smelting crisis. Both of the region’s aluminum smelters are in fragile talks with Big Rivers over energy prices, and have threatened to close their plants if they can’t work out a deal.
Brake said the other areas to consider include the need for I-67 and continued improvements in education in order to, as he put it, “educate our way to a better economy.”
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