taxes

The legislature’s joint revenue committee wrapped up two days of discussions on possible tax increases to deal with Wyoming’s declining revenue picture. 

The committee looked at everything from increasing property taxes to pay for an education shortfall to letting communities add a sales tax on food. But at the end of the two days, the committee only agreed to draft two bills, both dealing with increasing the wind tax.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

A Wyoming legislative committee is looking into ways to help cities, towns, and counties raise more money, but a localized food tax failed to gain support Thursday.

State Senator Ogden Driskill of Devils Tower said the state will likely not be able to keep providing money for local government at the rate it has in the past. Lawmakers approved 105 million dollars for local entities for the next two years, a decrease of 78 million from the previous two years. 

Wikimedia Commons

The Panama Papers data leak revealed that millionaires and others may be hiding assets in shell companies around the world. Wyoming’s secretary of state says 24 of the businesses mentioned in the Papers are registered there. Bob Beck reports on how the state’s tax laws make it a tax haven.

The state of Wyoming was amongst the locations revealed in the data leak of the Panama Papers, that involved the large offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The leak included 11.5 million confidential files and pointed to millionaires and others that may be hiding their money in Wyoming based shell companies.

Since coal companies are no longer buying coal leases, Wyoming may need to find a new way to fund school construction.

Friday the legislature’s joint revenue committee was asked to support legislation that would increase either property or sales taxes to pay for school construction.  But several legislators say it’s too early to consider a tax.  Revenue Committee member Tom Reeder has voted against the last several budgets and he’s calling for lawmakers to stop spending first. 

“I have heard nobody talk about…we could make government more efficient by doing XYZ.”

Miles Bryan

Let’s start in 2011, when Wyoming was rocked by an investigation from the national news agency Reuters entitled, A Little House on the Secrets on the Great Plains.

“When you think of traditional secrecy and tax havens you most likely think of Switzerland, and the Caribbean,” begins the Reuters reporter in the accompanying video. She’s standing under the “Welcome to Wyoming” sign on I-80 outside of Cheyenne.

Wyoming continues to rank number one in the nation in taxes for business. That’s from a report released by the Tax Foundation on Tuesday. The state’s lack of corporate and individual income tax has kept in in first place since 2012.

Wyoming Director Tony Gagliardi is with the National Federation of Independent Business’. He says the state deserves only a cautious congratulation since some of Wyoming’s taxes are going up. For instance, fuel taxes have increased and that could hurt farmers and hauling companies.

Wyoming is one of the easiest places in the country to make money. That’s according to a report by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative advocacy nonprofit.

The report ranks states based on things like labor and tax policies. Report author Jonathan Williams says those factors can help predict job creation and other forms of economic growth.

“We find that … states that value competitiveness, lower taxes, and reasonable regulations are the states that are growing today,” Williams said.

The Legislature’s Revenue Committee strongly supported a bill Tuesday that would lower interest rates on unpaid mineral taxes.

Currently, if a state audit finds that companies have incorrectly reported their production, counties can levy interest of up to 18 percent on back taxes.

The bill changes that, pegging interest to current rates, with a minimum of 12 percent and a maximum of 18 percent. Interest rates for companies that discover the discrepancy on their own would remain the same – at 18 percent.

Nearly half of Wyoming is federal land, and the government collects billions of dollars in taxes and royalties every year from industries using that land. But it isn’t always clear where that money goes, and who benefits from it. Now, an international initiative is trying to change that.

The legislature’s Joint Revenue committee will discuss the possibility of raising the state beer tax Friday/Today. 

Beer is currently taxed two cents a gallon, a tax that was established in 1935.  Supporters want to raise the tax to pay for underfunded substance abuse programs.  Wyoming has the lowest beer taxes in the nation.

Riverton Mayor Ron Warpness says communities have trouble finding money to pay for substance abuse programs, and he says that he’s disappointed that the Legislature has frequently scuttled attempts to raise the tax.

A lawsuit filed by Tripower Resources says the energy company is not responsible for about $885,000 in back taxes from 2008 to 2010. Tripower says it did not own the wells from which these production taxes accumulated during the time period in question. But Campbell, Crook, and Converse Counties have listed the company as tax-delinquent. They’re applying taxes from current production to the owed back-taxes. Converse County treasurer Joel Schell says, according to statute, the current owner is responsible for any unpaid taxes.     

A new report says Wyoming has the best tax policies in the nation for spurring job growth.

The Tax Foundation research group in Washington, D.C., released its annual rankings yesterday… placing Wyoming at the top of its overall business tax climate index.

The report authors say the state is especially attractive for prospective employers because it does not levy personal income and corporate taxes… and the state placed first among all states in the foundation's income and corporate tax categories.