Impact on low wage earners from proposed income tax elimination a concern for Martinsburg activist

West Virginia

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — With the West Virginia legislature contemplating the elimination of the state income tax, some advocates for those in low-income brackets are feeling left behind.

Governor Jim Justice proposed eliminating the tax, but does that mean the sales tax will be raised, and what will be the impact on senior citizens?

Justice has proposed an across-the-board 60 percent reduction as a start to an eventual goal of a complete phase-out of the income tax. His pitch to lawmakers is that fewer Mountain State residents will move away — and those outside West Virginia will relocate here — if salaries, pensions, annuities, IRA’s and social security are not subject to a state income tax.

An eastern panhandle social activist says those most in need of relief are being ignored altogether. And he sees it especially in the way homeowners are affected.

“If you’re low income and can’t pay that property tax,” says Peter Miller, “they take your house and auction it off.”

Citing a Harvard University study on housing trends, only 14 percent of the U.S. population actually moves across state lines every year. It is unclear if a state not having an income tax is a motivating factor. Most moves are for better jobs, family reasons or more affordable homes.

Some states that have dropped the income tax tempt fiscal disaster. Whatever is decided at the state capital in Charleston, Miller says the lower-income households are just being ignored.

“All this grant money for the wealthy, for businesses, store owners, exemptions for this, waivers for that,” Miller said. “Let’s do something for the truly needy.”

Governor Justice is selling his idea by pointing to four of the ten fastest-growing states in the U.S. – Nevada, Texas, Florida and Washington – that have no income tax.

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