Hearing addresses concerns, as plan to eliminate property taxes gains momentum

State Senator David Argall (R) 29th District said a bill he sponsored has enough support to pass the Senate, and eliminate school property taxes. “The property tax is so incredibly unfair. You can’t tweak it, you can’t adjust it, you can’t cap it. The only way to deal with the issue is to kill off the property tax,” said Argall.

Wednesday the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing to go over the bill and recent amendments. Senate Bill 76 proposes to eliminate property taxes dedicated to school districts and replace the funding by raising the personal income tax from 3.07 to 4.34 percent and increasing and broadening the sales tax from 6 to 7 percent, to include previously exempted items and services.

“This is a tax shift, there’s no doubt about it. There is going to be some winners and losers,” said Senator Mike Folmer (R) 48th District. “But is it worse than losing your home that you bought or supposedly thought that you owned? Because you cannot afford your taxes you can no longer have that right to live there.”

Argall and Folmer answered questions during the hearing mainly about what specifically would be taxed and how the plan would affect the poor and small businesses.

Senator Stewart Greenleaf (R) 12th District asked who will pick up the tab for legal services once they are taxed. “People that come to lawyers offices are paying for it themselves. They don’t have legal insurance. Whose going to pay it? The lawyer is not going to pay it.”

“While I am open-minded about other approaches, I am concerned that the premise of the Property Tax Independence Act is to replace property taxes with higher personal income taxes and higher, and more inclusive, sales taxes. That does not seem like a significant improvement over the current system.  I want to see real progress on this issue, not merely trade one set of winners and losers for another, and the time to do so is now,” said Senator Rob Teplitz (D) 15th District.

The bill needs to pass the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee, then would go for a vote of the full Senate.