The Minnesota Taxpayers Association held its annual meeting on Wednesday, October 3 at the St. Paul River Centre. This non-partisan fiscal and tax policy organization is entering its 86th year of existence on the political and policy-making scene in Minnesota.
The topic at the meeting was a preview of tax reform in 2013, with Minnesota Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans and the Council on State Taxation (COST) President Douglas L. Lindholm as the main speakers.
Commissioner Frans said the Governor’s Tax Reform Proposal would be released later in the year. As part of the process of developing this proposal, listening sessions on tax reform have been held throughout the state. According to Commissioner Frans, citizens attending the sessions want tax reform to be bipartisan, with every stakeholder “having some skin in the game”. Additionally, many people say taxes increase without explanation and that the property tax system is too complex.
While Commissioner Frans avoided discussion on specific reform proposals, he did outline several trends in the tax code that he called “notable.” First, he said that consumers are changing their spending habits. He described Minnesota’s tax system as regressive, and noted that the middle class is shrinking. Commissioner Frans also believes the tax code has gotten too complicated. As an example, he used the Individual Income Tax, where the number of adjustments and credits has risen from 9 to 50.
Lindholm followed Commissioner Frans with a national perspective on state tax reform. He said tax collections continue to rebound in states around the country, with budget gaps narrowing. Affiliate nexus tax issues continue to dominate dialogue at the federal level as well as in some states around the country. Lindholm said uniformity in state taxation should be a goal, and he described the types of taxes that stimulate economic growth. Lindholm said:
“property taxes on immovable property, value-added taxes, and consumption taxes hindered growth and investment the least. Corporate income and franchise taxes, transaction taxes on business inputs and services, property taxes on business property, personal income taxes on business income, and gross receipts taxes hindered growth and investment the most.”
Lindholm also discussed the role of COST in educating decision-makers at all levels. Tax reform will be a major issue in 2013.