House tax panel OKs $10 million tax exemption


LITTLE ROCK — The House Revenue and Tax Committee endorsed a $10 million tax cut proposal Thursday, as well as a tax increase approved by anti-tax icon Grover Norquist.

On a voice vote, with no “no” votes heard, the panel advanced House Bill 1039 by Rep. Jeff Wardlaw, D-Warren, which would exempt sales taxes on utilities for certain agricultural structures and equipment, including commercial chicken houses.

The committee approved the measure over the objections of the Beebe administration, which maintains there’s no room for such a large tax cut within Gov. Mike Beebe’s balanced budget proposal.

The panel then endorsed Senate Bill 5, by Sen. Bill Sample, R-Hot Springs, which would increase the state timber tax from 15 cents per acre to 20 cents per acre. Supporters say it would raise about $700,000 annually to aid the state Forestry Commission’s firefighting program.

Before the voice vote on SB 5, committee members received a copy of a letter from Norquist, the famously anti-tax leader of Americans for Tax Reform, informing them that if they endorsed HB 1039 first, he would inform Arkansas taxpayers that the net effect of the two proposals would be a tax reduction.

Both bills go to the House.