Sunday, June 4, 2017

Considerations For The 2017 RINO Index

Legislation Being Considered for the 2017 RINO Index
Oh we were told that the budget would be cut and tax credits trimmed down to size yet what happened is new tax credit schemes and ultra low gross production taxes were extended and expanded in scope. While another billion dollars in new taxes or fees were added. Below is a list of bills that we are considering for the 2017 Oklahoma RINO Index.

HB 1427 allows the Oklahoma Tax Commission to create a new department and hire outside auditors to attempt to collect out of state sales tax payments. This appears to be an attempt to harass out of state vendors with Oklahoma customers with the idea of forcing these out of state vendors to collect sales tax or use tax. If the out of state vendors comply with the auditors and hand over a list of shipments into Oklahoma that would cost Oklahoma companies billions of dollars in new taxes.

HB 1449 creates a new tax on electric and hybrid vehicles. Electric vehicles will have $100.00 tacked on to the annual vehicle registration fee and hybrid vehicles will have $30.00 added the registration fee. All vehicles should be paying something toward road costs but at the same time they give out incentives to buy these vehicles so one hand gives, the other hand takes away. At this time there simply isn't that many of these vehicles to make enough difference to pay for the cost of the legislation.

HB 1837 changes the lottery by eliminating the 35% contribution to the Oklahoma Education Lottery Trust Fund and replaces it with transferring $50 million dollars off the top. While the administrative costs are also limited to 3% it appears that the bulk of this money being skimmed off will go to advertisers and vendors of gaming systems.

HB 1845 is the REAL ID bill that forces Oklahoma into the federal identification card system. The program is a privacy nightmare and unneeded. Worse, those promoting the scheme have long lied about the consequences of not having Oklahoma drivers licenses REAL ID compliant, claiming that you couldn't get on an airplane which is not true. It is also a fee increase, adding $5.00 to the license fee, like the $5.00 they added to the tags last year, with the money siphoned off into Public Safety and two dollars to the tag agents. Worse, this bill guts the state prohibition on REAL ID passed about eight to ten years ago. There is a clause stating that the state won't share biometric data of its citizen but there is an out for data sharing required by the feds.

HB 2131 is a new tax credit scheme that gives away 10% of sales tax collected for companies with under one million dollars of new investment in a tourist destination, 25% for those companies with over a million dollars new investment, with the annual limit set at $15 million dollars per year drained out of the state treasury. And this is for investment that is going to be made anyway.

HB 2281 is a soft on crime bill that reduces the penalty for theft, burglary, embezzlement, hot checks, almost every kind of property crime from a felony to a misdemeanor. This is going down from five years in prison to a maximum one year in a county jail.

HB 2306 is a new set of fees on civil court cases. They added $25.00 when a lawyer files a motion to enter the case, which says he is going to be your lawyer for the matter, and an additional $25.00 per item to file subpoenas in civil cases. In both of these cases the lawyer prepares all the paperwork, the court clerk stamps and files it, no need to charge this kind of fee.

HB 2348 freezes the standard deduction used on your Oklahoma tax return filing. In 2017 even if the Federal standard deduction goes up your Oklahoma deduction will remain frozen. This is an automatic tax increase on that works or has income from other sources.

HB 2351 is tax credit scheme used in Tax Incentive Districts and it appears to extend ad valorem tax exemptions an additional five years beyond the original exemptions for the project. Some say this bill was written and passed for a single Oklahoma City developer. Electricity generating projects are exempted from the additional five years property tax exemption.

HB 2356 is a bill that moves forward the due date for franchise tax payments, moving it forward two months. That effectively increases cash flow for the state by taking the tax money before it was originally due.

HB 2367 removes a 1% rebate on sales taxes paid that has always been used to pay the sales tax permit holders for the cost of keeping track of the taxes paid and for filing the report. Seems a pretty good deal, forcing businesses to be a tax collector for the state in return for a paltry one percent. For the vast majority of permit holders the one percent doesn't even come close to covering the time to file the reports much less track the actual taxes. For Wal Mart or Amazon, that is a different story. Rather than change the $2500.00 monthly cap the permit holder refunded the politicians just took it all. So while this costs Wal Mart and Amazon $2500.00 it will cost the other businesses around $14 million dollars per year. The discount was also given only when the payment was paid on time or ahead of time, leading to more prompt payments form the sales tax permit holders. For a small business that sold $10,000.00 per month in taxable sales we were talking about $8.38 in discount. That wouldn't pay the time it took to fill out the form, write the check, and mail it in.

HB 2372 is the $1.50 per pack cigarette tax that funnels 50 percent to the Health Care Authority Enhancement Fund; 23 percent to the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Enhancement Fund; 14.5 percent to the Human Services Enhancement Fund; 5.4 percent to the Oklahoma State University Medical Authority Enhancement Fund; and 2.7 percent to the Health Department Enhancement Fund. This generates $215 million dollars in new taxes.

HB 2387 creates new state debt, $45 million dollars in bonds, for the Office of Juvenile affairs. Many millions of dollars will be paid out in bond sale fees and high interest rates, mainly to people that borrowed long term at a few percent interest and turn around and quadruple that in a safe investment to the state. You and I won't be offered these bonds as investments, only the most connected.

HB 2389 creates new state debt, $58.5 million dollars in bonds for a new Oklahoma State Department of Health building. Many millions of dollars will be paid out in bond sale fees and high interest rates, mainly to people that borrowed long term at a few percent interest and turn around and quadruple that in a safe investment to the state. You and I won't be offered these bonds as investments, only the most connected.

HB 2392 increases the annual fee for pesticide permits, removes the state departments from their exemption from paying for the permits (out of one pocket into another) and adds an additional $100 late fee. This is an additional $0.8 million dollars out of Oklahoma pockets

HB 2403 is another tax increase that operates by limiting deductions to the first $17,000.00 which would steal another $102 million dollars from Oklahoma taxpayers.

HB 2429 is another gross production tax decrease that allows another four years of reduced taxes from oil and gas wells. Even though it reduces the amount of tax the state gets the measure was estimated to bring in an additional $95 million dollars. However, the language in that estimate was extremely sparse, as if they were reluctant to discuss the matter and the less said the less to hang them with later. In the end it was an extension of the huge gross production tax decreases passed by Democrats and kept in place by the Republicans thanks to profuse campaign donations.

HB 2433 Removes the sales tax exemption on vehicle sales but keeps in place the existing excise taxes on those same vehicles. This is a 38% tax increase on purchasing a new or used vehicle. This will strip another $124 million dollars out of taxpayer's pockets in 2018 and every year afterward.

SB 38 is a bill that doubles a fee on all crimes except traffic tickets. Keep in mind that they doubled fees last year in criminal cases. The bill will strip about $3 million per year out of Oklahoman's pockets.

SB 120 extends the time that three aerospace tax credits can be claimed. The three tax credit schemes allow employers to get a 50% tax credit off tuition costs they pay to employees for four years, a $12,500.00 tax credit for wages paid to employees at the rate of 10% for state graduates and 5% for out of state graduates, and a five year long $5000.00 tax credit for employees. All this for jobs that would have come to Oklahoma anyway to be near Tinker. These tax credits are set to expire next year but this measure extends them till 2026.

SB 170 removes income tax rate reduction formulas that automatically reduce the income tax rate if state tax revenue hits a certain level.

SB 765 Comrade Senator Yen's tanning booth bill the restricts anyone less than 18 years old from using a tanning booth. Another do nothing nanny state legislative action.

SB 786 Another soft on crime bill that reduces the penalty for first, second, and third degree burglary. It removes a two year minimum sentence and also requires that someone be present in the building before a burglary is a first degree burglary crime. The idea is to lessen the number of inmates in prison.

SB 806 another nanny state bill, literally, that requires day cares to follow certain dietary guidelines and to provide adult-infant interaction, what ever that is. It also mandates a change in "screen time" or the amount of time that two year old kids spend watching TV or movies.

SB 842 Strips $60 million dollars from the Rainy Day Fund to pay for ad valorem reimbursement from all the tax credits that strip hundreds of millions of dollars from local property tax rolls each year.

SB 845 This is the smoking "fee" that replaced the $1.50 per pack cigarette tax that didn't pass. Since they basically lied and called it a fee they didn't need a supermajority to pass the tax but it will be challenged in court as it is unconstitutional for two reasons. First it is a tax, not a fee, and second it was passed in the last five days of the legislature and that is not allowed. This is a new $257 million dollar tax placed on Oklahoma smokers.

SB 860 is the $6.8 billion dollar bloated budget bill

SB 867 is another gross production tax credit scheme that continues the ultra low rate of 2% while neighboring states all have the rate set at 7%. Democrats lowered the oil and gas tax rate decades ago and the Republicans have kept the low rate in place which has devastated our state budget. So despite all the talk about easing out tax credits and special interest tax deals we wound up creating multiple new tax schemes or extending the old ones.