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Proposed inventory tax exemption won’t benefit non-industrial businesses in West Virginia


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Going into the 2018 regular legislative session, it was no secret that one of the pillars of the Justice administration agenda was a proposed rollback of West Virginia’s personal property tax on business equipment and inventory, a tax that Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher has called “one of the core issues that prevent us from moving forward.”

In his State of the State address, Gov. Jim Justice drew the loudest round of sustained applause from legislators when he announced his plan to “Just Cut Taxes and Win,” saying, “What I want to start with is the elimination of the tax on manufacturing machinery and equipment and manufacturing inventory.”

However, as currently drafted, most state businesses would not benefit from the inventory tax rollback.

The joint resolution for a constitutional amendment (Senate Joint Resolution 9, House Joint Resolution 106) strictly applies to “industrial business activity,” defined as businesses involved in manufacturing, mining, quarrying, or oil or natural gas extraction. This explains why the proposed phase-out equals $20 million a year over seven years, reaching $140 million in annual cuts, while total personal property taxes on businesses exceed $300 million a year.

Steve Roberts, president of the state Chamber of Commerce, said he had to break that news to the owner of a retail business, who said Sunday the elimination of the inventory tax would be a real benefit to his business.

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