As we've discussed in recent digest articles, this year saw a flurry of activity in the debate over state deductions for federal income taxes paid. Presently, seven states (Alabama, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, and Oregon) offer state taxpayers some form of income tax deduction for the federal income taxes they pay. This basically undoes, at least partially, the progressivity of the federal income tax. The upper-income taxpayers who pay more in federal income taxes receive the largest deductions on their state income taxes, even though they have the greater ability to pay. Proposals to reform the deduction for federal income taxes paid in Alabama and Iowa came up short this year, but state lawmakers are vowing to bring up the issue again next year.
Removing the sales tax on food and offsetting the revenue loss by phasing out the deduction for federal income taxes paid for wealthier Alabamians was the number one priority for Democratic lawmakers, but this week the House came up just one vote shy of the three-fifths needed to debate a bill before the state's budget passes. The bill's sponsor, Representative John Knight, has vowed to bring up the bill again next year and says, "I consider this an economic incentive package for working families of this state."
Lawmakers in Iowa proposed to completely eliminate the deduction and use the revenue generated to fund a reduction in state tax rates. The debate over the proposal was quite heated. According the Des Moines Register, "The debate included a rowdy public hearing where hundreds of Iowans -- most of whom opposed the plan -- were escorted from the House chambers by Iowa State Patrol troopers after they persisted in booing, hissing and applauding speakers." Despite support from the House Speaker Pat Murphy and Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal, the legislation didn't have enough support and ultimately wasn't debated in either the House or the Senate. Senator Gronstal is predicting that the legislation will be introduced again next year, saying, "There are times when issues are right but they're not ripe."