House to vote on tax-cut bills

The good news is that there will be several attempts in today’s House session to lower business taxes. The bad news: none of them has much of a chance.

House Bill 1638 would cut the communications service tax from 7 to 5.5 percent. Supporters say that business taxes are bringing in more revenues than expected. Opponents say that the state can’t afford to lose the $15 million the bill would cut, and even if it could, the tax break shouldn’t go to all telephone users.

HB 1101 would exempt rooming houses from the rooms and meals tax. Supporters say that this would encourage hotel owners to provide housing for the down and out. Opponents say that hotels that aren’t putting up the poor – like year-round vacation cabins – might take advantage of the tax break.

HB 1618 would allow a net operating loss deduction to be applied to the business enterprise tax. Supporters say this could help certain business start-ups, but the state Department of Revenue Administration worries that some businesses could use the law to “double-dip.”

One tax increase will probably go up in smoke — a measure to hike the tobacco tax a nickel to 85 cents a pack, with the money going to tobacco prevention efforts. Supporters say it would both raise revenue and decrease smoking. Opponents – led by retail grocers located in border communities – say that the state raised the tax 28 cents last session, and the levy should be left alone. – BOB SANDERS

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