Budget & Tax, Law & Principles
OCPA announces intent to file Supreme Court challenge of income tax increase
May 22, 2017
OKLAHOMA CITY (May 22, 2017) – Today, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed House Bill 2403 by a vote of 56 to 40. The bill would restrict itemized deductions in order to increase personal income tax collections by more than $101 million annually.
Jonathan Small, president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, issued the following statement after today’s vote on HB 2403:
“House Bill 2403 is an unconstitutional tax hike on working Oklahoma families and senior citizens. Should House Bill 2403 become law, we intend to challenge its constitutionality at the Oklahoma Supreme Court as a violation of State Question 640.
“House Bill 2403 is designed to raise revenue for state government, but it passed the state House of Representatives with far less than a three-fourths vote. This makes it a blatant violation of Oklahoma’s Constitution, suggesting our state’s highest Court would strike it down.
“This bill is an income tax increase of over $101 million a year that targets Oklahomans who own a home with a mortgage, who pay property taxes that support local schools and other services, or who are being crushed by heavy medical bills.
“As part of the challenge we intend to file, we will likely also include Senate Bill 1606, which was a $97 million income tax increase that passed the state House last year with only 51 votes. In addition, we’ll likely include House Bill 2348, which passed the House earlier this session with only 51 votes and has already been signed into law.
“By capping the standard deduction, House Bill 2348 represents an income tax increase of more than $19 million annually, mostly on middle- and lower-income Oklahomans already struggling to make ends meet.
“After being hit in the early ‘90s with one of the largest tax increases in state history, Oklahoma voters rose up and amended our state’s Constitution with State Question 640.
“State Question 640 established strong protections for Oklahomans from being slammed with more tax increases in the future. Among these protections, it requires either a three-fourths supermajority vote in both legislative chambers, or a vote of the people, to adopt a tax increase.
“Here at OCPA, we’ve consistently offered hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of options for addressing the state’s budget shortfall and preserving core services without raising taxes on Oklahomans. We continue to stand with hard-working taxpayers in favor of efficient government services and in defense of the state Constitution.”
Link to the full text of State Question 640, passed in 1992 by Oklahoma voters on the statewide ballot: https://www.sos.ok.gov/documents/questions/640.pdf