State Senator Amanda Chase has finally put forward a commonsense bill that will take the boot off of taxpayers and small businesses in SB 836, a bill that taxes income rather than gross receipts for the hated BPOL tax in Virginia.
The BPOL tax’s repeal has been on the table ever since the late John Taylor of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy put it on the chopping block 10 years ago. Then State Senator Ken Cuccinelli championed its repeal for years before moving to the Attorney General’s office. Surprisingly enough, there are a number of localities that have taken the step of abolishing the tax altogether — America having concluded the War of 1812 about two hundred years ago.
So it comes as a tiny bit of a surprise to read The Bull Elephant’s Steven Brodie Tucker rush to BPOL’s defense:
I am not personally a fan of BPOL taxes. I believe they unfairly target small business operators. However, in rural counties, the vast majority of businesses are, in fact, small business operators. These decisions should be left up to county citizens, not imposed upon them by Richmond.
What’s really going on here? Republicans in Richmond want to campaign on cutting taxes, only, they don’t want to cut their own taxes. Businesses looking to avoid (often unfair) BPOL taxes, who aren’t having luck repealing those taxes at the local level, go to representatives in Richmond and ask them to strong-arm localities. That’s exactly what this legislation does.
Tucker raises a worthwhile point. That’s symptomatically what this legislation does.
But let’s be honest — the relationship between Richmond and her localities is already broken. Keeping the BPOL at gross receipts rather than actual income is merely spraying Roundup on Virginia’s small businesses (at least in the localities that do not provide relief to small businesses — some do). This should be a 2017 gubernatorial issue (and given Stewart and Wittman’s presence in the race, it will be).
But the abolition of the hated BPOL tax? Conservatives in Virginia have long sought its demise. Do this… do it now and don’t hesitate. Let’s not paper over an antiquated 19th century taxation schematic funding a 20th century government structure and expecting 21st century results.
Senator Jill Vogel, Senator Ryan McDougle, Senator Siobhan Dunnavant, Senator Frank Wagner, and Senator Mark Obenshain — vote up SB 836 and let’s get this one to the floor. And kudos to State Senator Amanda Chase for putting forward principled legislation to end the hated “War of 1812” tax.
Somewhere above, John Taylor is smiling down and beaming with pride.