OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahomans of all political stripes seem to agree on one thing about the state’s tax structure: It needs work, says Sen. Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City.
Kirt will host a series of public forums this month for residents to express their thoughts and hear from economists about Oklahoma’s tax system.
“Across the political spectrum, people feel our state tax system benefits some and disadvantages others,” Kirt said in a statement Thursday. “As we anticipate more tax reform proposals on the State Capitol, I want to bring together taxpayers, tax professionals, and economists to share their expertise and insights into Oklahoma’s tax system. .”
Kirt serves on the Senate Appropriations and Finance Committees, as well as the bipartisan Legislative Budget Oversight Office.
“The goal of these sessions is to analyze the long-term health of the state’s revenue structure, identify key challenges for taxpayers and small business owners, and examine possible changes that could make the system fairer while strengthening the state’s economy,” Kirt said.
The first session, which will include time for members of the general public to share their experiences and ask questions, will be held at the State Capitol from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday. The meeting will also be livestreamed on a link provided by Kirt’s office.
Small business owners will have their turn from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 12 at Francis Tuttle’s Reno Campus, 7301 W. Reno Ave. in Oklahoma City in room A1020B. Attendees will have the chance to speak one-on-one with experts from state agencies and local chambers, including the Department of Commerce, Department of Rehabilitation Services and the Center for Small Business Development.
The third and final session will feature a panel of experts sharing their top tax reform priorities. The panel will include Cynthia Rogers from the University of Oklahoma Department of Economics, Oklahoma Policy Institute and Oklahoma State Chamber. The meeting will take place Sept. 15 from noon to 1 p.m. at the State Capitol in Room 535 and will also be streamed live.
Lawmakers debated various tax reforms during the 2022 legislative session, but could not reach agreement on several proposals and ended up making few substantive changes.
Leaders have often noted that Oklahoma law allows taxes to be cut by a simple majority vote, but raising taxes in order to correct a budget shortfall requires lawmakers to accept a very difficult supermajority vote. With tax cuts so hard to undo, changes to the tax system must be made thoughtfully, state budget framers say, balancing tax breaks for workers and businesses with the need to ensure budgetary balances at the end of the financial year.
Citing the need to provide economic relief to Oklahomans struggling with rising inflation, lawmakers and Governor Kevin Stitt have considered scrapping the state’s grocery tax, like 37 other states have. have already done. After some tweaks to the proposal to ensure municipalities that rely on sales taxes were kept out, legislative leaders ultimately scrapped the plan, saying the budget didn’t allow for the change this year.