Rep. Collins open to tax reform ideas

story by Roby Brock, a TCW content partner and owner of Talk Business
roby@talkbusiness.net 

Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, chairman of the House Revenue & Tax Committee, said he plans on not rushing his committee’s efforts to reform the state tax code.

In an interview with Talk Business Arkansas, Collins said he doesn’t want to pass a lot of legislation for it to be parked in the Senate because it will diminish his House caucus’ role in overall negotiations.

“That’s what happened last time,” said Collins, referring to the quick passage of a number of tax-cutting measures by the House. “The Senate had much more leverage to pick and choose which bills could move forward.”

This session, Collins said he wants there to be a three-way conversation in tax reform negotiations – the House, Senate and executive branch.

As for what those tax reform measures may be, Collins said “nothing is dead on arrival” at this point, including targeted business tax cuts, the grocery tax reduction, and income tax reform. Could all of these tax cutting proposals pass in this legislative session?

“Yes,” said Collins. “To some degree for each and all of those things.”

Collins acknowledged that individual income taxes constitute nearly half of the state’s general revenue budget. He contends that incremental change in this area can be accomplished by working the numbers in conjunction with revenue growth or flat budgeting.

“I feel strongly we need to dramatically lower the burden on the lowest income workers, more modestly lower the burden on middle income workers, and then slightly lower the burden on the highest income workers and job creators,” said Collins. “We can do this by slowing the growth of spending versus our historic norms.”

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Sen. Jake Files, R-Fort Smith, chair of the Senate Revenue and Tax Committee, has said he wants tax cut proposals pushed through his committee to show revenue neutrality.

Files, during a Jan. 17 interview, said he hopes to work with the House in an effort to alter income tax brackets in the state. He wants to see relief for middle-income tax earners, but is not supportive of a tax increase on the wealthy.

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