MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The idea of eliminating the personal property inventory tax on machinery is very concerning to the Monongalia County Commission.
The proposal is one of the top priorities of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce heading into the 2018 legislative session that begins on January 10th.
“It will cripple counties,” Monongalia County Commissioner Ed Hawkins said bluntly during an appearance on WAJR-AM’s Morgantown AM. “Would Monongalia County survive? Yes, Monongalia County would survive. There may be adjustments that have to made in taxation to compensate and that’s what the state is looking at.”
Hawkins is referring to the suggestion that increase personal property taxes is one method to filling that gap that would result from the elimination of the inventory tax. However, Hawkins pointed out that is easier said than done with many counties already taxing at the maximum rate allowed by state code.
“Probably half the counties in the state cannot do this. Not only are they maxed out they’re flat broke,” said Hawkins.
Approximately 27 percent of what the state collects in personal property taxes is distributed among the state’s 55 counties with boards of education getting the largest share of the allocation.
“What they’re not telling the public is, all of you who own property are going to pay for this at the local level,” added Commissioner Tom Bloom. “They’re going to say that’s the county doing the tax not the state.”
The chamber of commerce has argued that eliminating the inventory tax is about putting West Virginia in a better place to compete for jobs and increase the workforce participation rate along with increasing personal income.
Bloom remained firm it leaves the counties holding the bag.
“What were saying is you need to give us some alternatives and they’re telling us ‘no,'” said Bloom.