Tennessee Income Tax Prohibition, Amendment 3 (2014)

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Amendment 3
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Tennessee Constitution
Referred by:Tennessee State Legislature
Topic:Taxes
Status:On the ballot
2014 measures
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November 4
Amendment 1
Amendment 2
Amendment 3
Amendment 4
Endorsements
Local measures

The Tennessee Income Tax Prohibition, Amendment 3 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in the state of Tennessee as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would prohibit the legislature from levying, authorizing or permitting any state or local tax upon payroll or earned personal income.[1]

The amendment was sponsored in the Tennessee Legislature by State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-31) and State Representative Glen Casada (R-63) as Senate Joint Resolution 1.[1][2]

In Tennessee, a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment must earn a majority of those voting on the amendment and "a majority of all the citizens of the state voting for governor.”

Text of measure

Ballot title

The official ballot text reads as follows:[3]

Shall Article II, Section 28 of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by adding the following sentence at the end of the final substantive paragraph within the section:

Notwithstanding the authority to tax privileges or any other authority set forth in this Constitution, the Legislature shall not levy, authorize or otherwise permit any state or local tax upon payroll or earned personal income or any state or local tax measured by payroll or earned personal income; however, nothing contained herein shall be construed as prohibiting any tax in effect on January 1, 2011, or adjustment of the rate of such tax.
□ Yes
□ No[4]

Constitutional changes

The proposed amendment adds a paragraph to the end of Section 28 of Article II of the Constitution of Tennessee:[1]

Notwithstanding the authority to tax privileges or any other authority set forth in this Constitution, the Legislature shall not levy, authorize or otherwise permit any state or local tax upon payroll or earned personal income or any state or local tax measured by payroll or earned personal income; however, nothing contained herein shall be construed as prohibiting any tax in effect on January 1, 2011, or adjustment of the rate of such tax.[4]


Fiscal note

The fiscal note developed by the Tennessee General Assembly Fiscal Review Committee reads as follows:[5]

ESTIMATED FISCAL IMPACT:
Increase Local Expenditures – Up to $10,000/FY14-15*

Assumptions:

• Theproposedconstitutionalamendmentreceivedtherequiredconstitutionalmajority vote with passage of Senate Joint Resolution 221 by the 107th General Assembly. The required publication was made on May 6, 2012.
• Following first passage by two successive General Assemblies, and pursuant to Article XI, Section 3 of the Tennessee Constitution, it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to submit such proposed amendment to the people at the next general election in which a Governor is to be chosen.
• Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-5-211(b) requires the county election commission to publish a sample ballot in a newspaper of general circulation or mail sample ballots to registered voters at least five days prior to early voting.
• The requirement to add this constitutional amendment to the 2014 general election ballot will increase the size of the sample ballot.
• Given the size of the sample ballot will increase, and because publishing costs are generally based on the number of words published or the number of document pages printed, local government expenditures are expected to increase.
• Based on information provided by the Secretary of State, the total statewide increase in local government expenditures is reasonably estimated as an amount up to $10,000 in FY14-15.[4]

Background

There is no general state income tax in Tennessee. There is, however, an income tax on dividends from stocks and interest on certain bonds. This income tax is known as the “Hall Income Tax.” The tax rate is 6%. Constitutionally, Tennessee could enact an income tax on wages, salaries and so on. Amendment 3 would amend the constitution to prohibit the possibility of an income tax in the future.[6]

Support

The measure was supported in the legislature by Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-31).

Supporters

Arguments

  • Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-31) argued, "This is going to help us bring in jobs to Tennessee. We can say not only do we not have an income tax, but we'll never have an income tax."[8]

Opposition

Opponents

Officials

Organizations

  • Tennesseans for Fair Taxation[8]

Arguments

  • Tennesseans for Fair Taxation’s Jim Von Bramer called the amendment “irresponsible.” He said, “Permanently blocking an income tax lets the wealthiest Tennesseans walk away from paying a fair share of state and local taxes forever while the rest of us pay much more of our income on food taxes and the basic necessities we buy from our local retailers. Our state budget gap will likely only grow as the federal budget shrinks. We are headed into a dark place, and now the state Senate says we should throw away our flashlight.”[8]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Tennessee Constitution

The proposed measure was filed in the Tennessee Legislature on January 13, 2011 by Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-31).

The Tennessee General Assembly was required to approve the amendment in two successive sessions. In the first session, the measure required a simple majority for approval. In the second session, the proposed amendment needed to earn a two-thirds vote for approval. SJR 1 was approved by the Tennessee Senate for a second time on February 14, 2013. SJR 1 was approved by the Tennessee House of Representatives for a second time on April 8, 2013.[9]

Senate vote

February 14, 2013 Senate vote

Tennessee SJR 1 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 27 87.10%
No412.90%

House vote

April 8, 2013 House vote

Tennessee SJR 1 House Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 80 90.91%
No89.09%

See also

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