(UPDATED 3/21/2012 to include a SoonerPoll.TV interview with Sen. David Holt about the way in which Oklahomans would prefer to eliminate the state income tax.)
Originally Published on Aug. 31, 2011
A recent SoonerPoll.com survey revealed most likely voters in the state think that if Oklahoma eliminates the income tax, then it should be phased out without restructuring the tax system to raise other taxes.
SoonerPoll asked likely Oklahoma voters the following question: “Gov. Mary Fallin recently said one of her long-term goals is to eliminate the Oklahoma income tax, which is the largest source of state revenue. Some people say this can be done by restructuring the tax system. They say we could increase property taxes or other taxes to make up for the lost income-tax revenue. Other people say this can be done without raising other taxes. They say that normal growth revenue, coupled with reductions in state spending, will enable us to phase out the income tax over a 7-year-period. If Oklahoma is going to eliminate the income tax, which option would you prefer?
Results show that 65 percent of likely Oklahoma voters would prefer to phase out the income tax without raising other taxes. Only 22 percent of respondents would like to see the tax system restructured to raise other taxes, while the respondents with no opinion rose to 14 percent.
“Oklahomans are overtaxed and they know it,” said Brandon Dutcher, vice president for policy at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. “The average Oklahoman was forced to work more than three months this year just to earn enough money to pay the federal, state, and local tax collectors. It doesn’t matter if that tax burden is 1st or 50th among the states—it is inappropriate for a free people.”
Additional analysis indicates the results are bipartisan. A majority of Republicans, Democrats, and conservatives, as well as a plurality of liberals, all prefer to phase out the income tax without raising other taxes.
“Contrary to what most people have been told, government spending in Oklahoma is in fact at an all-time high,” Dutcher added. “It’s past time for tax relief and for a state budget that respects Oklahomans’ family budgets.”
The passage of HB 1285, earlier this year, breathed new life into the question of whether the state income tax could be reduced without raising other taxes. HB1285 created the Task Force for the Study of State Tax Credits and Economic Incentives to examine the legitimacy of state tax credits and incentives.
Some conservative policy makers and tax-reform advocates think the task force could help create an environment in which the state income tax could be reduced or eliminated. Oklahoma voters also indicated that eliminating tax credits from the Oklahoma tax code should translate into a state income tax rate reduction.
Respondents were asked: “There has been a lot of talk these days about the hundreds of tax credits and other tax breaks in the Oklahoma tax code. It’s possible that some of these tax breaks will be eliminated in the years ahead. If so, some people say the additional revenues should be used to fund state-government services. Other people say the additional revenues should be used to reduce the Oklahoma income tax rate. Which view comes closer to your own?”
Nearly two in three respondents, 63 percent, indicated that revenues should be used to reduce the Oklahoma income tax rate. Only 31 percent of respondents prefer revenues to fund state services, while another 6 percent had no opinion.
“As policymakers look to provide much-needed tax relief to Oklahoma families, OCPA will continue to provide tax and budget proposals for their consideration,” Dutcher said. “I think people will discover that, as Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is fond of saying, ‘You’d be surprised how much government you’ll never miss.’”
SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, was commissioned for this poll by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific poll July 25-Aug. 11. Likely Oklahoma voters were selected at random and given the opportunity to participate in the poll by phone or online. Of the 587 respondents who participated, 17 took the survey online and 570 responded via telephone interview. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.04 percentage points.