Legislature sends income tax ban to voters

April 8, 2013 8:13PM

NASHVILLE – The Beacon Center of Tennessee applauds the General Assembly for passing Senate Joint Resolution 1 tonight, which seeks to clarify the Tennessee Constitution’s prohibition on a state or local income tax. The resolution cleared its final legislative hurdle with the House of Representatives approving the measure by an overwhelmingly bipartisan 80-8 vote. Despite numerous rulings by the Tennessee Supreme Court that an income tax is unconstitutional, significant efforts were made in 2002 to enact an income tax on Tennesseans, and since then various members of the General Assembly have proposed income tax legislation. Further, a former Tennessee Attorney General opined that, if properly worded, the legislature could indeed impose such a tax. For these reasons, the 107th General Assembly and 108th General Assembly have passed a resolution clarifying that an income tax on labor is unconstitutional. “While some see this resolution as perfunctory, recent history has rendered this even-more-explicit language necessary,” said Beacon’s director of policy, Trey Moore. “We applaud the resolution’s sponsors for their hard work and for giving Tennesseans the chance to decide the issue at the ballot box. By approving the amendment next year, voters can send a clear message to future lawmakers and ensure that any further attempt to tax their hard-earned income must first garner the electorate’s approval.” Every day 20,000 taxpayers flee states with income taxes to settle in non-income tax states. Since 1967, states that tax personal income have seen a 42 percent increase in government spending and a 64 percent decrease in personal income growth. To amend the Tennessee Constitution, a resolution must pass two separate, but consecutive, General Assemblies before the issue is put to Tennessee voters. Tonight, the 108th General Assembly cleared the resolution’s final legislative hurdle. The amendment must receive a majority of the votes cast in the race for governor in 2014 in order to amend the Constitution.