Posts Tagged ‘income tax’
At noon today, a new Tennessee General Assembly gavels in for the 109th time. The future is bright for Tennessee, which consistently ranks among the best states to do business, and is considered a low tax, low debt state. However, as surrounding states seek to pass bold reforms to expand economic liberty and bring relief to taxpayers, we must not rest on our laurels.
The new legislature will face a number of challenges over the coming months, with outcomes that will dramatically impact the direction of our fair state. The session will determine whether Tennessee remains the envy of our neighbors and states across the country—or whether we are eclipsed by others more committed to advancing free market principles. The following issues will take center-stage in determining which direction our state will pivot in 2015.
Medicaid Expansion: The most important decision to be made by the legislature will be whether to assist the Obama administration in cementing Obamacare as a permanent national policy, despite the fact that conservatives made substantial gains in November’s elections. With every state that takes federal Medicaid expansion dollars, it becomes increasingly difficult for the new Republican Congress to roll back or repeal Obamacare. And by partnering with the president to expand Medicaid in Tennessee, Gov. Haslam opens up a massive entitlement program to some 200,000 able-bodied, mostly childless adults.
An expansion also means an increase in Tennessee’s already heavy reliance upon federal funding—already the third highest in the country, according to the Tax Foundation. It also means longer lines for all Medicaid patients, who are already being turned away by 40 percent of doctors. Lawmakers should reject an expansion and instead seek free market reforms that will drive down the cost of healthcare, making treatment more affordable and accessible for Tennesseans in need.
Right to Try: One of the first healthcare reforms that can be tackled is already gaining steam across the nation. Known as Right to Try, this proposal would allow terminally ill patients to access potentially life-saving medication that has been deemed safe by the FDA but is still ensnared in the agency’s decade-long approval process. In fact, many of these treatments have been available in other countries for years. The sickest among us don’t have time to wait for the FDA to send these drugs to market. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle should pass this this bill and remove the barrier between Tennessee’s terminal patients and the possibility of a cure.
School Choice: Thousands of Tennessee children remain trapped in a school that is failing to meet their needs. Every child deserves a quality education, and school choice will empower their parents to choose the school that is best for them. Nearly every problem we face as a state—poverty, crime, dependence, poor health—can be improved with a quality education. After several years of debating an opportunity scholarship program, it’s time the legislature follow the lead of nearly two-dozen other states and bring meaningful school choice to Tennessee families.
Hall Tax: While Tennesseans overwhelmingly banned an income tax on labor this past November, another tax weighs heavily on our state’s residents and prevents us from truly becoming income tax-free. Each year, thousands of middle-class retirees fork over a substantial portion of their savings to the government via the Hall Income Tax. This tax also drives investors out of our state who could otherwise help put Tennesseans back to work. And because the main proposal pending before the legislature is crafted in a fiscally responsible way, repealing the tax will have a negligible impact on state and local revenues.
These key issues—rejecting a Medicaid expansion, promoting right to try, enacting a school choice program, and eliminating the Hall Tax—are the most important things lawmakers can do during the few months they are in Nashville. Then they can return home to their districts having advanced the freedom and prosperity of all Tennesseans.
-Justin Owen & Lindsay BoydJanuary 13th, 2015 | Beacon Blog, Feature, Recent News
As another great year comes to an end, here are the top 5 most popular blog posts of 2014. Make sure to check them out!
1. Yes on Amendment 3 by Justin Owen
“That’s why Amendment 3 matters. It will ensure that Tennessee will forever remain income tax-free, despite whatever harebrained tactics politicians and special interests might otherwise try.”
2. Memphis is Making Freedom a Crime by Justin Owen
“But of course, the city is not interested in pubic safety as much as it is cracking down on one industry to protect another. Shame on Memphis for this disgusting display of cronyism.”
3. Obama Turning up the Heat on Tennesseans by Justin Owen
“Overall electricity rates will balloon by $289 billion nationwide, causing GDP to fall by a massive $2.3 trillion, and costing 600,000 people their jobs. Based on its percentage of the overall workforce, that accounts for 12,000 Tennessee jobs lost.”
4. Costco Removes D’Souza Book, “America”, from Shelves Nationwide by Lindsay Boyd
“Tennesseans should be weary of such blatant censorship, especially when the move is counterintuitive to the retail chain’s market demand.”
5. There is no Such Thing as a Living Wage by Mark Cunningham
December 30th, 2014 | Beacon Blog, Feature, Recent News
“Wages are supposed to be an indication of the value that a person brings to a company, not the amount of money that a person needs to live a comfortable lifestyle based on the previous choices they have made.”
The Beacon Center tends to focus on finding free-market solutions to the problems we face here in Tennessee. However, in honor of Thanksgiving, instead of focusing on the problems, I would like to recognize some of the things about Tennessee for which I am sincerely thankful.
Tennessee is Income Tax-Free
While repeal of the Hall Tax would be ideal, which would make Tennessee completely income tax-free, it is important to remember that we have it pretty good right now. There are only 9 states without an income tax, and we are lucky enough to be among them; and with the recent passage of Amendment 3, we can be sure it will stay that way forever. Having previously lived in Virginia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, it is a great feeling to be able to keep more of my hard-earned money instead of giving it away to the state government to spend inefficiently. I am very thankful Tennessee is income tax-free and will be still more thankful when we repeal the Hall Tax.
Tennessee Will Have No “Death Tax” by 2016
After Beacon successfully helped to pass a bill that repealed the “Death Tax” in 2012, I can rest assured that my family won’t have to pay taxes on my estate once I pass away. There is nothing fair about paying taxes twice for the very same thing, which is exactly what the “Death Tax” is. I am very thankful to live in a state where I can afford to die.
Tennessee is One of the Freest States in the Nation
According to the Mercatus Center’s Freedom in the 50 States, Tennessee is the 3rd freest state in the nation in terms of personal and economic freedoms. Overall, the state of Tennessee ranks in the top 5 nationally in economic freedom, fiscal and tax policy, and labor market freedom. I am thankful that I live in a state that is booming economically because of low regulations and a low tax burden. I am also extremely thankful that I live in a state that offers workers choice and is a right-to-work state.
Tennessee is Awesome
The last reason is less about economic factors and more about the amazing things that Tennessee has to offer. From the BBQ in Memphis to the beautiful Smoky Mountains, Tennessee has it all. Whether you’re in Nashville and want to hear the best live country music in the world just a few blocks away from our office on Broadway or go to a Vols game in Knoxville, I am thankful to live in the great state of Tennessee.
-Mark CunninghamNovember 26th, 2014 | Beacon Blog, Feature, Recent News