Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Keating: Tax Report Should Shame Opponents

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Keating: Tax Report Should Shame Opponents

Article excerpt

A report accusing Oklahoma of severely overtaxing the poor should make legislative leaders who oppose income tax cuts ashamed, Gov. Frank Keating said Thursday.

Keating has recommended cutting the state's top income tax rate of 6.75 percent, which kicks in at $10,000 on Method I, to 3.75 percent over the next six years.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities concluded that the income level at which Oklahomans begin to pay state income tax ranks ninth lowest for a two-parent family of four ($13,000), sixth- lowest for single-parent families of three ($9,300), among the 42 states with an income tax.

For a family of four with an income at the poverty line ($17,601), Oklahoma is ranked 10th highest among the states for the amount of tax the family must pay, $232. It ranked seventh highest for the amount of income tax ($63) a family of three earning the minimum wage ($10,712) must pay.

"If there was ever a wake-up call to prompt action on my income tax cuts, this is it," said Keating. "That's just shameful."

"Oklahoma's tax threshold for families of four increased during the 1990s, but the gap between the threshold and the poverty line has remained large," the report states. "Taxes on a family of four with poverty-level income increased between 1994 and 2000."

In this region, according to the report, Oklahoma taxes the poor at a greater rate than any state except Arkansas, although three states -- New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado -- have refund and earned income credit programs that reduce actual tax liability for the poor.

The governor has sent a letter to every member of the Legislature referring to the report and calling for approval of his tax cut proposal.

Keating said he has no problem with low-income tax credits being proposed during the current legislative session, but he believes such piecemeal steps are insufficient. …

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