Wyoming Income, Fuel, Tobacco Tax Bills Dead For This Session
Proposals for personal income taxes as well as bills that would have increased the state fuel and tobacco taxes in the Wyoming Legislature all have died this session.
Those bills included:
-House Bill 182. Personal income tax bill. Unlike a personal income tax bill proposed in the legislature in 2020, the 2021 proposal would have applied to all taxpayers, not only those making over $200,000 per year. But sales and other taxes paid would be credited against the amount owed in state income taxes. This bill would have raised $337 million a year for Wyoming schools, essentially erasing a projected $300 million school funding deficit. But the idea of a personal income tax generates strong opposition in Wyoming, one of seven states with no such tax.
-House Bill 138. Unearned income tax bill. Like the income tax bill, this proposal would have raised money for education in the state. House Bill 138 would have generated about $58 million for the school foundation program. The idea of an income tax in Wyoming, whether across the board like House Bill 182 or this proposal, is a very hard sell. It's been that way for a long time. When a tax committee in the late '90s proposed a state income tax as a fair way to generate revenues, then-Governor Jim Geringer [R] issued one of the shortest official statements in Wyoming history. It consisted of two words, "Hell no."
-House Bill 55. Tobacco tax increase. The bill would levy a tax of four and two-tenths cents on each cigarette sold by wholesalers in Wyoming. In cases where the cigarettes are not purchased from a wholesaler in the state, the same tax would be imposed at the retail level. In both cases, the bill would increase the current state tax per cigarette by 1.2 cents per cigarette from the current 3 cents. The increase would amount to an additional 24 cents per pack of cigarettes, from 60 cents to 84 cents. This bill just never seemed to get any serious traction in 2021.
-House Bill 26, Fuel tax increase--would have increased tax on gasoline from 24 cents per gallon to 33 cents. Would have generated around $60 million per year, with most of that money going to the state highway fund. Fuel tax increases in a state where people commonly drive long distances are never wildly popular, to say the least. The last time the state increased its fuel tax, by 10 cents per gallon in 2013, supporters were able to put together a coalition of business and industry groups to lobby lawmakers in teh face of widespread opposition among members of the general public. But it was a tougher sell in 2021 at a time when gasoline prices are rapidly going up anyway and many parts of the state are struggling economically.
-House Bill 37, Road user charge bill. Would have charged people a per-mile fee for traveling on Wyoming roads and highways. Would have eventually raised about $120 million per year. Governor Mark Gordon, in an unprompted comment earlier this year, said that a "lot of people are upset'' by this bill. Was never introduced in the House and essentially never went anywhere.
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