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WV tax reform proposal to include cuts for seniors

BECKLEY, W.Va. — State Republicans plan to cut the income tax on seniors’ Social Security benefits, but don’t yet know what that means for an ailing state budget.

House Majority Whip John O’Neal, R-Raleigh, announced the proposal to a group of AARP members gathered at Tamarack on Wednesday.

 “It’s about time,” O’Neal said, noting W.Va. is one of only a dozen states to tax Social Security benefits. “It’s time West Virginia did what is right by our seniors,” he continued.

In a follow-up interview, O’Neal told the Register-Herald that tax reform modeling is not complete, meaning no one has a number for what the effect will be on the state budget.

“Our finance committee will bring numbers,” O’Neal said, noting the entire legislature could then vote on the bill. “There are various procedures that will have some leveling effect. No piece of the tax reform puzzle is going to be considered by itself.”

The state faces a $250 million deficit. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has ordered a 4 percent budget cut, continued a three-year hiring freeze and made cuts to public education – a first in decades.

According to Deputy Secretary of Revenue Mark Muchow, a similar proposal to repeal the income tax on Social Security last year came with a fiscal note of $77 million, a number which grows each year as more state residents are eligible for benefits…


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