TAX reform issues and next month's special legislative session

Tuesday, August 14th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Parents are buying school supplies - without the benefit of a sales tax holiday. It nearly passed the legislature this year, but now is bogged down.

KOTV's Emory Bryan says the back to school sales tax holiday went the way of grocery tax relief. Both were delayed in favor of bigger reforms - and now the big reforms have been delayed as well. Ginger Susman knows she's spending a lot of money on school supplies - her four children need notebooks and pens - and backpacks and clothes. She wanted the sales tax holiday. "That would save a lot of money, I bet I spend a thousand dollars getting them all ready for school, 8% that would be a good savings."

But the tax holiday on school supplies died in the legislature this year. So did the grocery tax - and Oklahoma remains one of the few states that taxes food and medicine. State Representative John Sullivan, of Tulsa, tried to have it repealed - and believes the delay wasn't an oversight. "And I think this whole Texas Tax plan was nothing more than smoke and mirrors to Oklahoma's people to get tax relief off the table last session." Senate President Stratton Taylor offered the Texas Plan as a model for tax reform. First scheduled for a vote in the regular session, then delayed for a special session, it's now delayed again at least to October - meaning it may not be possible in the 2002 tax year - and meanwhile the legislature has done nothing on either the grocery tax - or the sales tax holiday - which could have helped families buying back to school essentials.

Another parent, Marion Billbury, "That would be wonderful, especially if you have to buy for more than one kid." The legislature plans to look at other items in the special session, and Representative Sullivan hopes grocery tax relief will be on the list. As for the complete overhaul of the tax code, it would require a vote of the people - meaning that time is very short for any changes in the next tax year.