Story by Randy Krehbiel found on TulsaWorld.com

Eliminating the state’s personal income tax will not guarantee greater economic activity and could be detrimental, three business development officials – including former Oklahoma House Speaker Chris Benge and former state Treasurer Scott Meacham – told a legislative task force Thursday.

Meeting in a conference room at the SpiritBank Event Center, the Task Force on Comprehensive Tax Reform was told that any effort to eliminate or drastically reduce the state personal income tax should be revenue neutral and should not involve shifting the tax burden elsewhere, such as to business and property taxes.

“I can’t sit here and say having no income tax, having low property tax, whatever, is going to make a big difference,” said Ardmore Chamber of Commerce President Wes Stucky. “We have to have a state that’s known for excellence.”

Benge and Meacham were similarly cautious about eliminating the personal income tax, which accounts for roughly half the state’s operating revenue.

Benge, now the Tulsa Metro Chamber’s senior vice president for government affairs, said the argument for lower tax rates “could have some merit,” but he urged state leaders to “consider the effect on core government services.”

“If our ability to educate and train employees for a 21st century economy is damaged through lack of funding, if we can’t maintain our roads and bridges, strong health care system, robust research and technology infrastructure, safe streets, etc., then the benefits of a reduction in the income tax rates may be limited.”

Meacham, now a lawyer in Oklahoma City and a director of the State Chamber, said the notion that states without personal income taxes – such as Texas – have a big advantage in attracting new business is largely illusory.

Texas, Meacham said…

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