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INCOME TAX Aiding rich may tilt system, group warns



Published: Fri, January 7, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Lawmakers say they want to cut tax rates.

COLUMBUS -- As state leaders debate reforming Ohio's tax system, a Cleveland-based think tank is warning against cutting the state income-tax rates on the most affluent Ohioans.

Policy Matters Ohio says such a move could tilt the state and local tax system against middle- and lower-income Ohioans. Police Matters is a private organization that does research on statewide policy issues and has liberal leanings. It is primarily funded by the George Gund Foundation of Cleveland.

"If you start lowering the rates at the top, you start losing large amounts of revenue," Policy Matters Research Director Zach Schiller said Tuesday. "If you start lowering those rates, you'll find quickly that either you lose revenue or lower incomes pay more," he said.

Republican Gov. Bob Taft and majority Republicans in the Legislature have said that reforming the state's personal-income and corporate tax system will be a high priority as the new two-year Ohio General Assembly kicks off this week.

Taft has said he plans to propose broad tax reform -- both for personal income and corporate taxes -- as part of the two-year executive state budget proposal he will introduce lawmakers early this year. No details of either the proposed tax reforms or the state budget proposal have been released.

The current two-year, $48 billion state spending plan runs through June and lawmakers will have to enact the next state budget by July 1.

Under current law, Ohio's personal income tax has nine brackets.




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