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Tennessee one step closer to outlawing Income Tax

The Tennessee State Senate today overwhelmingly supported a Constitutional Amendment to outlaw the state income tax. By a vote of 28 to 5, the Senate approved Senate Joint Resolution 18, which is sponsored by Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown). The five Senators who opposed the measure were Doug Henry (D-Nashville), Ophelia Ford (D-Crazytown Memphis), Beverly Marrero (D-Memphis), Reginald Tate (D-Memphis), and Thelma Harper (D-Nashville). Democrat Senate Leader Jim Kyle (D-Memphis) voted for the measure.

Click here to read the Amendment.

Tennesseans rally against a state income tax in the early 2000s.

Senate Republicans were quick to applaud the vote. In a statement, the Caucus announced:

The proposal, Senate Joint Resolution 18, specifies that the legislature as well as Tennessee counties and cities shall be prohibited from passing either an income tax or a payroll tax, which is a tax on employers that is measured by the wages they pay their workers.  A payroll tax has been proposed as a way around an income tax.  An effort to impose a local payroll tax was defeated by voters in the City of Memphis in 2004 but was proposed again in recent years by elected officials in Shelby County.

The most serious attempt to pass a statewide income tax was in 2002, when the proposal received 45 of the 50 votes necessary for passage in the House of Representatives.  Last year, eight state lawmakers co-sponsored legislation to implement a state income tax.

“In these tough economic times, Tennesseans need jobs and don’t need to be worrying about having to pay a state income tax,” added Sen. Kelsey.  “It’s time to let the people vote on the issue and put this matter to rest.”

The resolution would allow Tennesseans to vote to prohibit the income tax in three years.  Prior to that, it will need to pass the House in the coming weeks and to pass the Senate and House by a two-thirds vote in two years.

I applaud Senator Brian Kelsey for his hard work and for Democrat Leader Jim Kyle for also voting for the measure. Tennesseans have – on a number of occasions – made their voice heard on this issue. According to Wikipedia, there are only nine states with no income tax.

Watch the video of the Senate vote here.

The measure now moves to the House. Upon passage, it must pass the General Assembly in the next Session by a 2/3 vote before going onto the ballot in the following gubernatorial election cycle.

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