Delegates overwhelmingly pass bill to phase out state taxes on Social Security benefits

The House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed a bill that would phase out state income taxes on Social Security benefits.

The legislation would build on a 2019 bill signed into law by the governor to exempt Social Security income from personal income taxes for most West Virginians, particularly those in lower tax brackets. That was also a three-year phase-out.

This proposal would exempt those in higher brackets from being taxed on Social Security benefits. The bill was introduced in the House of Delegates as HB 4880.

Delegates passed the bill 96-0, and it now goes to the state Senate.

The phase-out would mean a 35%t cut retroactive to Jan. 1, 2024; 65% in 2025 and 100% in 2026.

The estimated financial effect of fully eliminating income taxes on Social Security benefits would be a little more than $37 million.

“This issue regarding taxation on Social Security or any pension or retirement program really grinds my gears, gives me legislative heartburn,” said Delegate Larry Kump, R-Berkeley.

“We’ve been fooling around on this taxation issue on Social Security for many years now. And I’m grateful that we’re going to be doing some more on it. I wish we were doing it more quickly and taking care of the issue completely since all our surrounding states do not tax Social Security benefits.”

He concluded by saying a third of a loaf over each of the next three years is better than nothing.

“It’s certainly better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick,” Kump said, “and let’s keep the light on for these people.”

AARP has been pushing to eliminate the state income tax on Social Security benefits. The phase-out is a moderated approach, said Gaylene Miller, state director for AARP West Virginia.

“We think it’s a prudent choice to phase it out. That’s what they did the first time around,” Miller said on MetroNews’ “Talkline.” “So that’s the path they’ve chosen, and that’s the path we’ll walk.”


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