As many of you know I am a member of the Tax Reform Task Force. I ask to be put on this Task Force because I believe we need to make changes to our current tax code. I believe we have to find a way to reduce the tax burden on all Arkansans. At the same time we need to make Arkansas more attractive for business both big and small.
There are several different types of taxes we pay. They range from Income Tax, Property Tax, Sales Tax, Fuel Tax and others. The Task Force is looking at each type of tax and making recommendations on changes we would like to see.
The Task Force is currently making recommendations on what changes they would like to further study. These are not recommendations on what will be the final changes but only recommendations on what to look at further. We need to do this so that we can get a full picture of what our proposed changes would do to revenue and the State budget. We will be making final recommendations after we get this information.
I find it very disappointing that some special interest groups find the need to give out false and misleading information about what we are trying to do. Simply put if someone is telling you we are making recommendations to either tax something or take an exemption away they are simply not telling the truth. At this point we are only making recommendations of what we would like to study further to see the impact. Yes at some time we will make final recommendations and that time is coming soon. But it is not now. We are just beginning to look at what the impact would be to changes.
It is hard to do the job we have been elected to do when groups continue to give out false and misleading information because they have an agenda they want to push. So if you hear we are doing something and you want to know the truth ask any member of the Task Force. As a member I’ll be glad to tell you where we are at in our process.
I’ve heard we’re going to tax churches and we’re taking away the grocery exemption and sales tax holiday. This is just misleading and false information.
I am the member that ask the question about passive income exemption on churches and non-profits. I wanted to know if churches and non-profits were paying taxes on income that was not their core business or related to the business of the church. For example if a church owns farm land and is getting rent of that land are they paying taxes and are they paying property tax on that land? If a non-profit is conducting business that is for profit and competing with a for profit business are they paying the same taxes as the for profit business? Why would I want to know this? Because if we are going to update our tax code we need to look at it as a whole. If there are exemptions we need make sure they are valid and needed. Do we want to put some business at an advantage over others with our tax code or have them all on the same playing field, that’s what we have to ask ourselves? Because of the issues around what is defined as passive income I did not recommend we proceed with the repeal or change. No one wants to tax churches and non-profits for their income or property related to their core operation and church business. That has never been proposed.
On the grocery tax exemption and sales tax holiday exemption a recommendation was made that we study further the impact of repealing those to exemptions. Why would we do this? I can honestly say I have reservations about these changes. But when you have 2 different tax policy groups, one that leans more right and more that leans more left, suggest that we repeal these because there are better ways to target the low to middle income Arkansans we should listen. They believe that we could do some type of EIC, rebate or income tax credit back to lower and middle income Arkansans that would get the money in the hands of the people who need it the most. As I said I have reservations about this and I am not sold on the idea. But I would be foolish not to look at all possibilities. That is my job to listen to all the information and make the best informed decision I can.
So the moral of this long post is simple. Please don’t listen to false and misleading information from groups representing special interest. Believe me all groups are representing some type of special interest. Just ask a member of the Task Force or better yet come to our meeting and hear for yourself. Here’s a list of the dates of our meetings.
June 20-21 Big Mac A 9:00 am
July 10-11 Big Mac A 9:00 am
August 6-7 Big Mac A 9:00 am
August 22-23 Big Mac A 9:00 am
September 26 Big Mac A 9:00 am
October 29 Big Mac A 9:00 am
November 27 Big Mac A 9:00 am
December 12 Big Mac A 9:00 am
Hope to see you there.