State House representative proposes state income tax for wealthiest Texans

January 9, 2013 4:21:37 PM PST
An income tax for Texas? It could happen. Texas is known for not having a state income tax. But that could change if one bill gets support at the State Capitol.

Wednesday was only the second day of session now in Austin, but legislators are already proposing some big changes. As those lawmakers get down to business, the gloves are already coming off.

"I'm trying to give our wealthiest Texans the opportunity to start paying their fair share... and stop being freeloaders," said Representative Lon Burnam. "It's really time for them to start paying closer to their fair share."

Burnam, a Democrat from Fort Worth, has authored a bill designed to institute an income tax on the richest Texans -- those making more than $250,000 a year.

"Our tax system in Texas is one of the most unfair tax structures of any state in the country. I'm trying to level the playing field," Rep. Burnam said.

If passed, the bill would increase taxes incrementally. For those making between $250,000 and $500,000 annually it would mean an additional 4 percent tax on total taxable earnings. Those making $500,000 to $1 million would pay an additional 5 percent plus $10,000.

Anyone earning over $1 million a year would pay 6 percent more plus $35,000.

"I couldn't support something like this," said Representative Craig Eiland of Galveston

The odds of any Republican supporting this bill are slim. Even some Democrats question the good that might come from it.

"It would require a Constitutional amendment which would require two-thirds of the House and two-thirds of the Senate plus a vote of the people, and there's really no chance that this bill is gonna pass," Rep. Eiland said.

Rep. Burnam says the money from this tax would be used to offset property taxes from those making less than $250,000.

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