Study: Cut Va. taxes

The rich may be rich and the poor may be poor, but a nonpartisan think tank says there’s a way to eliminate state income taxes on the poorest Virginians while providing as much as a 10 percent tax cut to everyone else.

The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy on Friday unveiled a plan to restructure Virginia’s tax system – which the group says could generate substantial economic growth.

The nonprofit group’s report recommends slashing certain business taxes and income taxes while expanding the sales tax to currently untaxed services.

“By expanding the current sales tax to most of the industries that do not currently collect it from their end-user individuals, every individual taxpayer can be substantially helped,” said Michael Thompson, president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute.

“The competitive business environment in Virginia can be enhanced, and our state and local governments would not lose a penny.”

The institute, based in Springfield, advocates a philosophy of “limited government, free enterprise and individual responsibility.” Its new economic study, “Tax Restructuring in Virginia: Revenue Neutral Path for Improving Virginia’s Economy,” was prepared by Chmura Economics and Analytics, a Richmond consulting firm.

“Basically, this is a collaborative team effort,” Xiaobing Shuai, Chmura’s senior economist, told reporters during a telephone news conference. “What Chmura Economics did in this study is go through probably 100-plus sales tax exemptions, and then try to estimate the value of those sales tax exemptions.”

A computer model developed by economists at the Beacon Hill Institute, an independent public policy foundation at Suffolk University in Boston, tested various scenarios for overhauling Virginia’s tax system.

Nine economic scenarios were put through the tax model.

“We took Chmura’s numbers, which is a static model that doesn't account for the positive economic benefits of the tax restructuring, and put them in our dynamic model and ran the nine scenarios that you see in the study,” said Paul Bachman, director of research at Beacon Hill Institute.

“The model resolves for new values, and we get new values for jobs, investment and disposable income. What we are doing, in economic terms, is shifting some of the tax burden away from businesses and households in some scenarios and putting it onto an untaxed service sector.”

Virginia currently exempts almost all services, from haircuts to auto repair, from sales taxes.

A major goal of the Thomas Jefferson Institute’s plan is to eliminate three taxes that business owners consider onerous and an impediment to creating jobs:

• The Business Professional Occupation Licensing tax, which is levied on gross receipts.

• The Machine and Tool tax, which is levied on equipment a business buys.

• The Merchants Capital tax, which is levied on a business’ inventory.

Virginia businesses must pay those taxes regardless of whether they make a profit. Thompson called them “job-destroying taxes,” saying they discourage businesses from expanding and hiring more employees.

The Thomas Jefferson Institute initiated its study to see if it was possible to eliminate those taxes and restructure the state’s tax system in a revenue-neutral manner that could improve Virginia’s economy.

The nine scenarios outlined in the study range from a relatively small impact to a radical overhaul.

The first scenario, for example, would simply eliminate the BPOL, M&T and Merchants Capital taxes and make up the revenue by extending the sales tax to certain currently untaxed services. The study said this would create 900 private-sector jobs.

Other scenarios suggested not only eliminating the three business taxes but also eliminating the lowest income tax bracket and cutting other personal income tax rates. Under these scenarios, the sales tax would be expanded to more services. In some scenarios, the sales tax would be cut, too. (It’s currently 4 percent for the state and 1 percent for local government.)

The scenarios did not specify exactly what types of services would be taxed. The study acknowledged that taxing medical bills, health insurance premiums, private school tuition and financial fees probably wouldn’t fly.

The more extensive scenarios would create at least 40,000 jobs, the study said.
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Eyes in the sky


Members of the Henrico Citizens Police Academy Alumni (pictured) got a rare peek at the “high” side of law enforcement recently, with a trip to the Metro Aviation Hangar adjacent to Richmond International Airport.

About 25 academy alumni gathered at the hangar July 11 to hear Officer Shaun McCarthy describe a typical day aloft - and some not so typical – in a Cessna owned by the Metro Aviation Unit. > Read more.

Rock on!


The painted rocks craze is thriving in Henrico, as a walk around the grounds of local libraries and parks will demonstrate. This rock was spotted near Libbie Mill Library, and there's a slideshow of many more uniquely-painted stones on the RVA Rocks Facebook page (https://facebook.com/groups/RVARocks/).

Painting and hiding rocks is a family activity appropriate for all ages, and parents especially like the way it fosters creativity and gets kids outdoors. > Read more.

Goochland man arrested at RIC with gun


A Goochland County man was arrested at Richmond International Airport July 19 after Transportation Security Administration officers found a loaded semi-automatic handgun in the traveler’s carry-on bag.

A TSA officer detected the 9 mm caliber handgun inside the man’s carry-on bag as it entered the security checkpoint X-ray machine. The handgun was loaded with 12 bullets. > Read more.

Kansas man struck, killed while crossing West Broad Street

A 54-year-old Kansas man was struck and killed by a car while attempting to cross West Broad Street near Bethlehem Road in the Near West End at about 10:30 p.m., July 19.

Julius A. McBride of Overland Park, Kansas, was struck by a car traveling east on West Broad Street. > Read more.

Henrico Police warn citizens to ‘Take it, Lock it or Lose it’


Eastern parts of Henrico County have witnessed a recent increase in larceny from automobiles, so Henrico Police officials are spreading the word to encourage citizens to lock their vehicles.

Police are handing out and posting fliers and putting message boards in neighborhoods to educate residents.

There usually is a rise of larceny from automobiles during Christmas, spring and summer break, said Henrico Police Officer James Bupp. > Read more.

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July 2017
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Barefoot Puppets will present “Trickster Tales” from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Henrico Theatre in Highland Springs. This high-energy show brings traditional stories from West Africa to life with expressive rod puppets, original music and lots of puns. Admission is free. For details, call 652-1460 or visit http://www.henrico.us/rec. Full text

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