LEWISBURG (WVDN) – This November election will have four proposed amendments to the State Constitution. Passage of them is required by a public vote to be held during the Nov. 8 general election, where the amendments will be placed on the ballot.
Any amendment to the State Constitution deserves careful consideration.
Amendment 2 relates to Article X and the collection of personal property taxes and their rates. It also provides for school levies, excess levies by the state, and limits of five years on those levies.
The proposed amendment will give the State legislature the power to determine personal property taxes on vehicles and also on businesses machinery, equipment and inventory. Called the Modernization Tax, this Article X has already been amended in 1982, 1984 and 1985.
There is already exemption for farming equipment and exemption for assembly plants where the inventory has been assembled with materials manufactured in another state or is being warehoused in West Virginia while its origin and destination are outside West Virginia borders.
The biggest supporter of this amendment is MakeWVFirst, a lobbying group who keeps a low profile online but finances media advertisements encouraging voters to “Vote Yes” on Amendment 2.
Alternately, the nonprofit watchdog group West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy is more easily researched and is based in Charleston.
The WV Center on Budget and Policy states that the name of “bad tax” for business has not discouraged businesses from operating in West Virginia. In fact, they say, when these business taxes were repealed in Ohio there was no increase in the businesses as a result.
“There may have actually been job losses because repeal of this tax encouraged businesses to further automate and increase equipment being used,” says the WV Center on Budget and Policy.
The WV Center on Budget and Policy says, “The list of the top 50 beneficiaries of the tax cut in Kanawha County was recently revealed, confirming what we have been saying: Large corporations will disproportionately reap the benefits and their dollars are heading out of State (already).”
Harvesting companies are heavily mechanized in coal, timber and gas, and these would benefit by the passage of this Amendment 2. Walmart, Dollar General and Lowes would also benefit because their stores contain warehousing at final destination of goods.
On Oct. 3, Gov. Jim Justice spoke publicly in Lewisburg about his opinion.
“I will benefit personally (with my coal business),” Justice said.
He stated there will be a $600 million loss to county governments statewide.
He said, “Vote no, and those that do not vote are giving a yes vote.”
County services that will be impacted by this loss of income to their budgets are support of public schools, fire and emergency services and law enforcement. Greenbrier County tax income on these categories in 2021 was over $6.6 million, of which one third was personal property/vehicles.
Personal property assessments for 2021 were: machinery and equipment, $2,468,056.40; furniture and fixtures, $272,344.92; leasehold investments, $157,739.11; computer equipment, $184,900.86; inventory, $1,151,116.24; and vehicles $2,380,841.63.
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