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Del. Ken Plum: Tax Season is Upon Us

by Del. Ken Plum January 31, 2019 at 11:55 am 7 Comments

This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

The arrival of W-2 forms in the mail reminds us, even if we may have momentarily tried to forget, that tax season is upon us. This is no ordinary tax year, however. Massive changes in federal tax laws will result in significant changes at the state level as well. No one can speak with authority as to what the differences will be for an individual taxpayer as the General Assembly has not revised state tax law to reflect the federal changes.

The situation we are in is not new. Anytime the Congress makes changes in federal tax policy, the state must adjust to those changes and decide whether to adopt the federal policy or to put in new state provisions. As a conformity state, Virginia has generally followed federal policy allowing taxpayers to file state returns using the information on their federal form.

The difference this year is that the federal changes are so massive that conformity is not realistic without major changes in the way state forms are filed. Adding to the fact that the forms may be different is that there are major differences between the way deductions and credits have been handled and what will constitute taxable income. High-income taxpayers that were the winners with the federal changes could significantly reduce monies to a state that is already struggling to meet its obligations to funding schools, mental health programs and other priorities.

Essentially, Gov. Ralph Northam proposed that additional revenues be used for investments in education, workforce development, expanded broadband and targeted tax relief to those who work at the lowest wages. Republicans have proposed a plan to return more monies to taxpayers, but there is strong concern that the Republican plan will make big dents in the state budget.

All agree that a decision needs to be reached soon for taxpayers to file their tax forms as soon as possible and as accurately as possible. In past years as many as 650,000 taxpayers have filed in the first 10 days of February.

I am the patron of a bill supported by Northam that would make a portion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) refundable to taxpayers based on their income and family size. The current Virginia EITC set at 20 percent of the federal EITC does not allow for a refund of its full value as is done in 23 other states. Under the bill I introduced, it is estimated that as much as $250 million would be returned to the pockets of hard-working Virginians who are at the lowest pay levels. This helps not only those workers, but — since low-income residents typically spend that money on goods and services — it boosts the local economy as well.

There is a sense of urgency in the General Assembly that this issue needs to be resolved as soon as possible, because it impacts every household. Not only is there a great deal of confusion, but that confusion will be multiplied many times as people start to prepare their returns with incomplete directions. The challenge has been known for several months. Tax season is upon us. Our tax policy needs to be resolved now.

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  • OneReally

    After hearing what “Gov. Ralph Northam” said on the radio yesterday. I can’t take you or ideas seriously that you are out to help.

    https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/31/politics/ralph-northam-third-trimester-abortion/index.html

    • 40yearsinreston

      Northram is toast
      The outraged PC posse is hot on his tail

  • no worries

    howard will fix it

  • 30yearsinreston

    Thank you for reminding us who employs you and pays your salary
    Any updates on your visit to VDOT to address our traffic woes, or are you still too busy to walk down the street to advocate on our behalf

  • Walter Hadlock

    It is interesting that Del. Plum talks a good game, but when it comes to making amendments to the state’s budget, he’s missing in action. The Virginia Public Access Project ( vpap.org) on Jan. 30 posted a listing of members of the Virginia General Assembly who had proposed amendments to the state budget. Delegate Plum is among the missing. I should note that I am in House of Delegates District 86. Currently, the seat is vacant, with an election scheduled for Feb. 19. While we do not currently have representation in the Virginia House of Delegates, it seems those in Delegate Plum’s district are in the same boat when it comes to the state’s budget.

    • Rational Reston

      A vacant seat is way more productive than Del. Plum. Maybe I’ll write-in “Vacant Seat” next election.

    • 40yearsinreston

      Plum stopped working for his constituents at least 20 years ago
      His ongoing mission: get a promotion to Speaker

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