Lewis Outlines Proposed Tax Exemptions

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which includes a 4 percent sales tax on now-exempt legal services would not include fees for attorneys in personal injury, workers compensation or wrongful death actions, Oklahoma House of Representatives Speaker Steve Lewis, author of the bill, said Tuesday.

The Shawnee Democrat also said it would be a close question on whether to extend the sales tax to fees of defense attorneys in criminal cases and property condemnation proceedings.

During an all-day briefing on his bill before the House Education Committee, Lewis said the education revenue package continues to exempt from taxation those services that affect sick, injured or disabled people.

Health care services also would remain exempt.

The tax proposal is contained in House Bill 1017, the 154-page document authored by Lewis to put into action the recommendations of education Task Force 2000.

State Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Cullison, D-Skiatook, has agreed to co-author the bill.

Lewis stood at the front of the House chamber for most of the day Tuesday as he waded through his bill section by section to explain it to committee members.

Following consideration of the reform provisions by the Education Committee, the bill will go to the Revenue and Taxation Committee for consideration of the tax hike.

Lewis has proposed raising the corporate income tax rate from 5 percent to 7 percent; raising personal income tax collections by 10 percent, and removing the state sales tax exemption from professional services, business services and auto repairs.

Lewis said advertising services which fall within his proposal include such areas as matchbooks, pencils and advertising consulting services. Advertising space in newspapers and time on radio and television would still be exempt, he said.

While the Education Committee laboriously combed through the bill, state senators were at loose ends.

The Senate convened Tuesday morning for about 10 minutes. Approximately four senators joined the House committee to listen to Lewis explain the bill.

To use the slack time, Cullison said the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday will begin looking at state agency budgets for next year's appropriation. …