OKLAHOMA CITY – A majority of Oklahomans should see at least a little more money in their pockets this year, thanks to income tax cuts handed down by state lawmakers more than two years ago.
The wealthiest Oklahomans should see the largest benefit, as their income tax rate drops from 5.25 percent to 5 percent in 2016.
According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, the tax breaks would equal:
- $9 for those who make between $19,500 and $36,400
- $30 back to individuals making between $36,400 and $58,100
- $81 for those who make between $58,100 and $97,700
- $169 to those who make between $97,700 and $190,900
- $362 for those who earn between $190,900 and $433,200.
Rep. Scott Inman (D-Del City) blasted the tax cuts on Facebook Friday, criticizing state leaders for cutting taxes when the state faces a $900 million budget shortfall that lawmakers acknowledge is only growing.
But, at briefing on the budget shortfall last month, republican lawmakers rejected the idea that tax cuts were hurting the state’s finances.
“That has nothing to do with the $900 million hole that we face that is almost entirely based on the price of oil,” said House Speaker Jeff Hickman (R-Fairview).
The state’s finance secretary agrees, saying income taxes are only a small piece of a much larger problem.
“Make no mistake – the vast majority of the problem we have ahead of us started at the OPEC building in Saudi Arabia, not at this building (the capitol) located at 2300 N. Lincoln,” he said.
Instead, lawmakers say the state must focus on one-time sources of funding and inefficient tax credits to solve its financial problems, as the oil industry continues to struggle.
Sen. Clark Jolley (R-Edmond) says tax increases should be the “dead last thing we consider.”
Politically, Jolley says, raising taxes or repealing the cuts now in effect would be almost impossible.
By law, taxes can only be raised by a vote of the people or with a three-fourths majority in each chamber and the governor’s signature.
“We’re going to look at cutting spending, off-the-top apportionments,” Jolley said. “We’ll look at examination of tax credits, sales tax exemptions, the whole thing.”
“The electorate has elected a republican majority that runs on low taxes,” Doerflinger said.