Legislators respond to Hall tax letter

Posted 11/28/17

To The Editor:A recent "Letter to the Editor" (in the Nov. 19 edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner) criticizing the work and tax cuts of the Tennessee General Assembly perfectly frames the …

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Legislators respond to Hall tax letter

Posted

To The Editor:

A recent "Letter to the Editor" (in the Nov. 19 edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner) criticizing the work and tax cuts of the Tennessee General Assembly perfectly frames the fundamental disagreement between Democratic and Republican principles: While Democrats believe in higher taxes and hold a “government knows best” attitude, Republicans advocate for lower taxes for all and firmly believe as much money as possible should remain in your wallet to spend on those things you deem most important.

Since 2011, the Republican-led Legislature has cut more than $800 million in taxes, returning money that would have gone straight to the government directly back to the pockets of Tennessee citizens. These cuts include eliminating the gift tax and inheritance tax, cutting the tax on groceries multiple times, lowering property tax owed for veterans, the disabled and the elderly, and cutting the franchise and excise tax to both support current companies and help recruit new industry to Tennessee.

In addition, Republicans have also cut the Hall income tax and scheduled a timeline for its full repeal — a decision that the author of the recent letter to the editor took special offense to in the Cleveland Daily Banner.

In place since 1929, the Hall income tax unfairly punishes entrepreneurs, business owners, and seniors who rely heavily on their invested retirement income to make ends meet by levying a tax on capital gain, dividend and interest income. Taxing those who have worked hard their entire lives, who have been fiscally responsible and frugal in their budgets, and who have saved for their futures is simply not the Tennessee way.

While some local governments have complained that cutting the Hall tax means less taxpayer dollars to have at their disposal, let us be clear: revenues from the Hall tax make up less than 1 percent of the total state budget and less than 4 percent, on average, of local revenues. In Cleveland, Tenn., it is even less.

According to the Tennessee Department of Revenue, the city of Cleveland will see a decrease of only $192,372 of revenue in 2018 by cutting the Hall tax. That is $192,372 out of a total $34 million general fund budget, a meager 0.6 percent budget reduction. If a local government chooses to raise taxes to make up for that slight difference, the blame solely rests on their own shoulders for raising taxes on hardworking Tennesseans instead of cutting back on their own government spending.

Recently, WalletHub ranked Tennessee the No. 1 state to be a taxpayer, based on our conservative monetary decisions and other key fiscal indicators. Other studies rank us similarly. Since 2011, over 365,000 net new private sector jobs have been created in our state and our unemployment rate is the lowest in recorded history.

And, thanks to things like tort reform, the overhaul of our workers’ compensation system, and phasing out the Hall income tax, more citizens have a job today than at any single point since Tennessee became a state in 1796.

These accomplishments do not appear out of thin air; they happen because Tennesseans have chosen to elect state officials that understand the importance of an efficient government that manages our finances in a commonsense way, just like a business or a family has to do every single day. As a state, we are constantly working to keep taxes low, keep our spending in check and keep our state finances in order.

Our vote to phase out the Hall Tax is a massive victory for Tennessee taxpayers, and we are proud to stand with our colleagues in eliminating this tax that unfairly hurts senior citizens (who pay nearly 50 percent of the total Hall income tax in Tennessee), our entrepreneurs and our job creators. By cutting the Hall tax and reducing additional taxes in other areas, our state can fulfill its status as the nation’s friendliest environment to grow a business, raise a family and plan for a future — all while being uninhibited by government regulations, burdensome red tape and excessive taxation.

Repealing the Hall tax is, and will continue to be, the right choice for Tennessee’s future.

— Bradley County Legislative Delegation

• Sen. Mike Bell, District 9
• Sen. Todd Gardenhire, District 10
• Rep. Dan Howell, District 22
• Rep. Kevin Brooks, District 24

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