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More Anemic “Income Tax Relief”



S.C. Rep. Tommy Stringer (R-Greenville) is a good guy … as far as we know, anyway. But his recently unveiled “income tax relief” plan is yet another exercise in pointlessness (which is par for the course among “reform in name only”-minded politicians in the S.C. General Assembly).

According to reporter Adam Beam of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper, Stringer is pushing a plan which would impose a flat 3.75 percent income tax rate on taxable income between $2,850 and $14,500. Anything above $14,500 would still be taxed at 7 percent – which is effectively the highest income tax rate in the entire Southeast (and a major reason our state has to bribe companies to locate here).

The net result of Stringer’s proposed cut? A not-so-whopping $86 in income tax relief for each taxpayer (which is good for a not-so-whopping $80 million reduction in the state’s $23 billion budget).

Don’t get us wrong – we’ll take the $86. But we can’t in good conscience call this proposal “tax relief.” It’s a talking point – nothing more, nothing less. It’s a politician crossing something off a list – not a leader crafting a tax relief plan aimed at stimulating economic growth.

Stringer’s proposal reminds us of S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s so-called “income tax relief” plan.

In her FY 2013-14 budget, Haley proposed eliminating the state’s six percent income tax bracket on income between $11,400 and $14,250 and taxing that income at a 5 percent rate instead. The result would save the average filer $29 in 2014 – or much less than the puny $80-100 in income tax relief she proposed in her FY 2012-13 budget. Of course Haley didn’t actually commit to this infinitesimally small “cut” – she put it on a “wish list” in the event surplus revenue was available.

In other words despite her publicly stated preference for eliminating the income tax, her proposal would barely lay a glove on it – and then only if there is “surplus revenue” available to pay for it.

These “Republicans” need to stop dipping their toes in the water and dive into substantive income tax reductions aimed at stimulating job growth, attracting (as opposed to bribing) capital investment and raising income levels.

After all when it comes to tax relief, “size matters.”


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