COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — On top of Ohio Speaker of the House Jason Stephens’ list of priorities is House Bill 1, legislation seeking to lower and flatten taxes.
After laying out his legislative priorities, Stephens said the bill ensures “all Ohioans can keep more of their hard-earned dollars.”
“Not only will it provide a mechanism for lowering income taxes but also will provide an offset for property taxes into the future,” Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) said.
Ohio currently has four income tax brackets ranging from 2.765% tax to 3.99%. H.B. 1 eliminates these tiers, instead setting a flat 2.75% rate for all Ohioans.
Not only are House Republicans backing this, but Republicans in the Senate are also pushing for a flat income tax rate — and they said it won’t negatively impact Ohio’s revenue.
“There won’t be any lost revenue,” Sen. George Lang (R-West Chester) said. “I believe you will watch revenues soar because of it. Taxes have consequences.”
Lang and other lawmakers are aiming to reduce the income tax even more in the next few years.
“I want to try and eliminate it all together,” Lang said. “Folks are saying over the next ten years, my hope is in the next 4-6 years.”
But lawmakers on the other side of the aisle, like Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), said the legislature must seriously consider the consequences of lowering the income tax rate for everyone.
“Who will then fill in the gap? If it’s the lowest income people in Ohio, because suddenly we’re raising the sales tax to balance it out, I don’t think that sounds like a good idea,” Antonio said. “We need a proportionate response.”
Antonio said aside from increasing sales tax, the argument she often hears in session is that Ohio can use budgetary restraints to offset the costs.
“I think that’s another way to say a reduction in services for the people who really need them,” she said. “The services the state of Ohio provides for low-income families.”
Lang said a flat income tax presents a pathway to bring businesses back to Ohio, thereby improving the economy. Antonio and other Democrats, however, are not convinced the tax rate should be the main avenue of change.
“If we welcome all people to the state of Ohio, if we lift up our young people and make sure they have an affordable path to an education, those are the kinds of things I think will make a difference to businesses in Ohio,” Antonio said.
NBC4 asked Gov. Mike DeWine what he thinks of the proposed income tax reduction, and he said, “We’ve tried to continue to cut income taxes, everybody wants to see income taxes cut. We also have things we need to do in the state of Ohio, we’ve got education needs, we’ve got other needs, we have to balance all those out.”