Policy Prescriptions to Combat Inflation, Support Long Term Growth, and Spark a Supply Side Revival in Oklahoma
Get on a Path to Elimination of the Personal Income Tax by starting with a 2.75% Flat Tax
2. Increasing the standard deduction from $6,350 to $10,350;
3. Eliminating the marriage penalty (through elimination of brackets);
4. Establishing well-designed revenue triggers for future rate reductions. Revenue triggers would:
- Cut the rate in half point increments as revenue collections grow – ensuring Oklahoma does not experience budget deficits related to tax cuts;
- Use December Certified Collections, not February Estimates (which avoids problems with previous revenue triggers).
- Reduce the income tax rate to a flat 2.75% over the next 3 years if revenue is sufficient (approx. 1.5% revenue growth rate)
5. Fiscal Impact: $438.5 million (to get to initial flat 4.25% rate). This would return overall income tax collections to roughly what they were in FY2020, hardly a difficult budget year.
End Anti-Business Tax Penalties
1. Repeal the Franchise Tax
- Oklahoma’s franchise tax is a direct tax on capital investment. It is calculated based on the assets a business owns, not the net profit the business makes. As a result, businesses pay the franchise tax regardless of whether or not they turned a profit that year. This is an unnecessary barrier to starting a business, since new businesses often invest in assets and are not profitable in the first few years. In essence, the franchise tax is a fee imposed for the privilege of doing business in Oklahoma. Worse, the franchise tax is a double tax—it is levied in addition to corporate income tax. Eliminating the franchise tax will reduce financial burdens on business and increase the likelihood of capital investments in the state.
- Fiscal impact: $57.2 million
2. Create a De Minimis Exemption for Tangible Personal Property (TPP):
- Tangible Personal Property tax is a direct tax on capital investment. The tax is levied on property that can be touched and moved, such as machinery, equipment, and farm implements (as opposed to traditional property tax, which is assessed on land and buildings).
- As a local tax, the relatively small amount of revenue raised is divided between hundreds of local government entities, making up a comparatively small amount of the revenue any individual entity relies on. The state government receives no revenue from tangible personal property tax.
- Many small businesses face negligible tax liabilities but are still forced to go through a costly filing and compliance process. Exempting business machinery and equipment acquired for less than $100,000 would take these small businesses off the tax rolls with minimal revenue loss to local governments.
- Fiscal impact: approx. $20 million, spread across 77 counties and hundreds of local recipients of property tax
3. Repeal the Throwback Rule
- Oklahoma’s throwback rule punishes Oklahoma businesses that sell out of state, encouraging them to relocate to – or at least locate distribution facilities in – other states. Studies suggest that, over time, tax avoidance strategies eliminate most or all revenue gains from throwback rules.
- Fiscal impact: $0 (revenue neutral)
4. Move to a Single Sales Factor Apportionment
- Every company doing business in more than one state must allocate how much of its income was earned in each state in which it operates. This calculation is referred to as “apportionment.” Generally speaking, a state’s corporate income tax rate is only applied to the portion of a company’s income that was earned in that state.
- States can use three factors in their apportionment formulas: the share of total (1) property, (2) payroll and (3) sales that a firm has located in each state. Many states have shifted from traditional three-factor apportionment to a single factor apportionment based on sales alone. In order to compete in the changing tax landscape, Oklahoma should follow suit and adopt a single sales factor apportionment.
- Fiscal impact: revenue neutral or positive