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Beginning of the End for the Margin Tax?

 by William Grimsinger

On April 28, 2011, the Senate Finance Committee considered Senate Joint Resolution ("SJR") 52.  SJR 52 was introduced by Senator Steve Ogden and would amend the Texas Constitution to: (1) create an exception to the so called Bullock Amendment (which prevents a business tax from applying to the incomes of natural persons and to income distributed by certain partnerships) and (2) pass a one year constitutional bar on the margin tax from January 1, 2014 to January 1, 2015.  If the resolution is approved, the proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution would be placed on the ballot on November 8, 2011 ballot.  The text of the Resolution and other information is here:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=SJR52.

Presumably, one purpose of the Resolution is to take the margin tax off the table beginning in 2014 so that the next Legislature (session begins January 2013) would be forced to undertake comprehensive tax reform.  Many commenters have suggested that the margin tax is inadequate to provide for Texas' budget needs and does not adequately replace revenue lost when property tax rates were decreased in response to voters' concerns.  Others, however, have suggested that the margin tax will raise sufficient revenue to cover Texas' budget needs and that the current revenue shortfall is created by a one-time loss of certain funds, including federal stimulus funds.

In any event, SJR 52 is scheduled for a vote on May 2, 2011.