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Under the Dome: House to turn Justice Social Security tax cut into phase-out

By Steven Allen Adams, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A key part of Gov. Jim Justice’s 2024 platform to eliminate the remaining income tax on Social Security recipients is now becoming a three-year phase out in the West Virginia House of Delegates.

House Bill 4880, relating to the personal income tax Social Security exemption, was on first reading in the House Tuesday and set for passage Thursday.

HB 4880, introduced on behalf of the governor at the beginning of the 2024 legislative session, would exclude all Social Security benefits from the state’s personal income tax retroactive to Jan. 1.

According to AARP, West Virginia is one of 12 states that still tax Social Security benefits to one degree or another. In 2019, the Legislature passed House Bill 2001, which phased out income tax collections on Social Security benefits for those earning less than $50,000 for single filers and $100,000 for joint filers over a three-year period. Income taxes for those filers have been completely exempt since 2022.

According to the fiscal note from the state Department of Revenue, completely exempting Social Security benefits would return approximately $37 million to taxpayers in fiscal year 2025 beginning in July, $37.7 million in fiscal year 2026, and by increasing amounts in future fiscal years. The elimination of income taxes on Social Security would affect more than 50,000 senior households.

However, the House Finance Committee on Friday recommended a committee substitute for HB 4880 that would phase out the remaining income tax collections on Social Security benefits for single filers earning more than $50,000 and joint filers earning more than $100,000. The phase-out would be retroactive to Jan. 1, reducing taxes by 35% this tax year and 65% in tax year 2025, with the tax phased out completely in tax year 2026.

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