CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Several West Virginia business leaders say they support the U.S. House of Representatives’ recently passed tax reform bill, but still have a lot of questions about how it will benefit the average West Virginian.
Second District Congressman Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) was in Charleston Monday morning to hear from those industry professionals during a roundtable discussion on tax reform and economic development issues at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Office.
“There are still some questions, concerns, suggested changes. I wanted to hear that directly from my constituents,” Mooney said.
The House passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last Thursday with a 227-205 vote. Mooney, along with West Virginia’s two other congressmen David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.), voted for the plan.
Mooney said Monday he’s all for simplifying the tax code, but wants to do it in a way that’s good for West Virginia. He said lawmakers still have more work to do before the legislation possibly heads to a conference committee.
“I think this bill is certainly not perfect. I did vote for it last week. I’m hopeful as it goes through the process it’ll still be a product I can vote for,” he said.
One of the main concerns of Monday’s discussion was how the bill would help the middle class. Mooney said the average West Virginian “actually benefits more than the average in the country based on the tax numbers.”
“The average tax break for West Virginia is $1,952, so you’re talking $170 a month or so and we think that’s important for the West Virginia tax payers to see that,” he said.
The corporate tax rate would decrease from the current rate of 35 percent to 20 percent, according to the plan. Mooney said lowering that rate means companies will have more money in their pockets. He anticipates about 5,000 new jobs will be created in the Mountain State.
“They’re going to have more money to spend, so it could increase the wages for those that are there and/or hire new jobs,” Mooney said.
Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, supports tax reform and said he believes the legislation will increase economic opportunity for business expansion in the state.
“Because of our location, because of our natural resources, because of our infrastructure — particularly for moving bulk goods, we are a place that can attract very significant investment,” Roberts said. “What we probably have in front of us is a once in a generation opportunity to repair and improve our tax code in the United States.”
The last time lawmakers updated the tax code was in 1986.
The U.S. Senate plans to vote on its tax reform plan after the Thanksgiving holiday.