AARP applauds proposal to eliminate state income tax on Social Security benefits

An organization representing older West Virginians and retirees is applauding Gov. Jim Justice’s call to exclude Social Security benefits from the state income tax.

Gaylene Miller

“We were surprised and delighted, frankly, that he offered the proposal for the Legislature’s consideration,” said Gaylene Miller, state director for AARP West Virginia, speaking on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”

“And I will tell you, that this is the number one issue among our members that we hear from them, that they feel that we should exert our influence on the legislation to fully eliminate the tax on Social Security.”

There are multiple bills introduced for this legislative session that would exempt the full amount of social security benefits from personal income tax. They have been assigned to the finance committees in each chamber and the policy will be considered as the regular session rolls on.

Gov. Jim Justice

“I’m sure they’re willing, and I’m sure they’re absolutely looking forward to doing this in every way,” Justice said of lawmakers during his administration briefing on Friday, adding that the Social Security exemption could affect 50,000 seniors.

The Social Security proposal is one of three tax breaks the governor proposed during his State of the State speech this week. One is a state child and dependent care tax credit. The other would expand the senior citizen homestead property tax cut. The administration estimated the three tax breaks combined add up to about $50 million.

Mark Muchow

Deputy Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow addressed the Social Security exemption during a state revenue presentation before the Senate Finance Committee earlier this week.

Muchow noted a 2019 bill signed into law by the governor that featured a three-year phase-in to exempt Social Security income from personal income taxes for most West Virginians, particularly those in lower tax brackets. West Virginia is one of only 10 states still taxing Social Security benefits in 2024, Muchow said.

“The policy recommended by the governor is to make West Virginia the same as most other states,” Muchow said. “What we’re seeing is a trend toward fewer and fewer states taxing Social Security over time.”

Taxing Social Security undermines the purpose of Social Security, Tom Hunter, spokesman for AARP West Virginia, told the West Virginia Watch publication.

“This was a program that was designed to lift seniors out of poverty. It wasn’t a program that was designed to fund state governments. So we believe this is a step in the right direction.”

Miller of AARP said on “Talkline” that members of the organization feel strongly about that point.

“They feel like they have paid that tax,” she said. “It’s something that they’ve earned and they should get to keep to help pay their bills and cover expenses.”




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