Okla. senate votes to gradually eliminate the state's income tax

ARDMORE, OK - The Oklahoma Senate voted 30-17 for the bill that supporters said would boost the economy and put money back into the hands of Oklahomans, but critics are not so sure.

The GOP controlled senate in Oklahoma has passed a controversial bill that could change the number at the bottom of your pay check.

"I think it would be a wonderful theory myself," Oklahoma resident Roy Givens said. "Seems to me it works good in Texas and I think it would be a good thing for Oklahoma."

"You gotta come up with a plan, an overall plan," banker Bob Bates said. "Just cutting taxes and not realizing we are going to have to cut services doesnt make any sense."

Oklahoma State Representative Leslie Osborn (R) said, "What it is is a ten year targeted phase out of the personal income tax in the state of Oklahoma. Right now our highest rate is 5.52 percent and our first year we would go a 3 percent reduction to 2.5 percent."

Rep. Osborn said the law would take affect in January 2013 and every year after income tax would drop .25 percent until it is eliminated in 2022.

"The reason that we are doing it is two-fold," Rep. Osborn said. "It is a big economic driver for the state. There is a lot of business that are fleeing to coastline states because of over regulation over taxation, this
will make them the place that they want to come to."

Osborn said at the end of the ten year phase out, Oklahoma would have lowest overall tax burden in the United States.

"It sounds great to say we are going to cut income tax but if our social services are going to be cut by the same amount that sounds dangerous," Bates said. "A lot of people are going to get hurt by that."

Senators opposed to the bill said it does not include a plan for how to replace the money the state would lose.

A spokesperson for the Oklahoma Tax Commission said it is only the agency's job to enforce the tax law and not judge it.

"The income tax is over three billion dollars a year so obviously if they do away with the income tax it would make a big impact on the state but as far as the tax commission goes we will administer the laws as they are passed," Oklahoma Tax Commission Communications Director Paula Ross said.

The bill now heads to the Oklahoma House for further consideration.

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