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W.Va. lawmakers get history lesson on tax reform

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Several legislators spent Monday listening to an analysis of the state’s tax structure, history and the most recent studies on tax reform.

Secretary of Revenue Bob Kiss told the 14-member committee studying the state’s tax system that it “has the opportunity for tremendous good,” but warned them that they should keep the state’s budget in mind.

“Do not divorce the budget from your deliberations on tax reform. At the end of the day the reason for a tax structure is to support services,” Kiss said. “You could sow the seeds for disaster.”

He said previous lawmakers have done that, reacting to economic circumstances instead of long-term planning. Kiss urged the group not to plan on an “800-page bill that fundamentally changes the tax structure immediately.”

Kiss said West Virginia is ranked 21st in business taxes already, rising to that middle of the pack number from 48th in 2004.

That ranking, a product of tax reforms past, which includes the elimination of the business franchise tax and lowering of corporate taxes, hasn’t brought businesses flocking to the state, nor has it seemed to help existing industry, particularly coal…

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