Oklahomans will have the chance to vote on six state questions on election Tuesday, one of which will be State Question 766.
It deals with “intangible” personal property taxes.
This tax issue started in 2009 with a supreme court ruling but some fear it could develop into the largest tax increase in Oklahoma’s history.
With a “yes” vote, the measure would do away with the Intangible Personal Property tax, which is a tax on items like patents, inventions and trademarks.
One economic leader said he believes if the measure doesn’t pass, some companies may choose to do business in another state.
“We have to make sure that that’s not seen as a new tax source for our government,” Norman Chamber of Commerce President John Woods said. “Intangible property is very difficult to equate the true value. It’s very subjective and at the end of the day, it’s an added cost of doing business for our local businesses in Oklahoma.”
The Norman Chamber took out a newspaper ad supporting a Yes vote on SQ 766.
If passed on Tuesday, other intangible personal property that could not be taxed include licenses, land leases, insurance policies and custom computer software.
Gov. Fallin is also running TV ads in support of a Yes vote on SQ 766.
But one educator said there will be a consequence.
“This is a revenue stream that will have an impact on public schools,” Norman Schools Superintendent Dr. Joe Siano said.
Siano said he believes a Yes vote is projected to take away an additional $32 million from state schools.
He said school budgets are already $200 million below 2009 levels, so he opposes SQ 766 because lawmakers haven’t identified a replacement revenue stream.
He supports building a strong economic future but said there is a cost.
“Ten years from now, the kids that are in the Norman Public Schools will be long gone,” Siano said. “How do we serve the kids that we have today while we plan for the future? I think it’s our responsibility to do both.”
The intangible property tax is currently only paid by large businesses with property that moves across county lines but Woods said a No vote on SQ 766 will expand taxation down to Mom and Pop stores.
But Dr. Siano said he believes doing away with the tax could evolve into fewer services and fewer teachers for students, leading to larger class sizes.