Earlier this week, State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), the Senate Education Trust Fund chairman, floated the possibility of lawmakers offering a tax rebate in the upcoming year, given the current budgetary surplus of state government.
During an interview that aired on Wednesday's broadcast of Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5's "The Jeff Poor Show," Orr elaborated on his proposal.
According to the Morgan County legislator, conservatives were duty-bound to "send money back to the people."
"It seems incumbent upon those of us who call ourselves conservative – that we have got to send money back to the people," Orr said. "We made some steps this past year where we cut business taxes. We cut for retirees. We cut taxes for working families. All of those are in the '22 tax year, so next year when people are paying their taxes, if they're in one of those buckets, they should be paying less because of what the legislature did in 2022. I was pleased to lead a lot of those efforts in the legislature.
"So, looking forward, we've got projected a very large surplus – a billion dollars-plus. And I've learned, and you too, Jeff, watching government – they'll spend every dollar they can get and then ask for more. I mean, they're always in need, some program, something, saying, 'Oh, we'd love to spend it on this, that and the other.' It seems to me we conservatives need to send money back to the people of Alabama who are facing inflation and challenging economic environments, and the price of gasoline, food, etc. These staples of life go up, and if we've got the dollars to do it, we need to send some back.
"So, a rebate seems to me is very targeted. We know the amount we're dealing with, and it needs to be substantial. You see what other states are doing. We've got reports on other states on how they've conducted a rebate program. We need to be part of that here in Alabama, in addition to looking at additional tax cuts that make sense going forward to help the people in the state long term by putting the money back in people's hands and let them spend it how they will, not make that decision in Montgomery, spending it on more government."
Orr also said it was his preference to offer rebates to those who paid into the system but acknowledged there were numerous other possibilities.
"There are a lot of forks in the road and I've got the legislative staffers working on exactly what would be the best option," Orr said. "Across the states, Jeff, there are all sorts of [options]. Some do a percentage of what the taxpayer paid. Some do it to every adult in that state. I don't think I advocate that. I think we need to send back the money to the people who sent it to us. So, those who truly file a tax return and stroke the check to the state of Alabama, or it came out of their payroll, and they didn't get a rebate or refund of the full amount – those are the people who I think need to get something back from us in the form of a rebate.
"There are various amounts. We've got needs in Montgomery. We don't need to be short-sighted. But we just need to send a significant amount, hundreds of millions of dollars, to be significant. We don't need to send a check for $37.18 back to the taxpayers. It needs to be at least a couple of hundred dollars each. Again, I would think we would be in the neighborhood of those who have written a check to the state and truly paid into the system and do a flat amount for the taxpayer, double it for married, filing jointly. You've seen a fair number of states do that, but they're doing all sorts of things – sales tax holidays, rebates, tax cuts."
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com.
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