From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 17 - 12/23/99
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Legislative Committee Approves 8 Fuel Tax Hike
One cent increase in sale tax and real estate tax also approved
by Rob Shaul

Last week the Joint Revenue Committee of the Wyoming State Legislature approved a slew of new taxes which will raise approximately $140 million per year to cover expected budget shortfalls in the coming years.

The tax increases begin with a proposed 8-cent increase in fuel taxes with the usual exemptions for agriculture and industrial off-road uses. According to State Senator Bob Peck of Riverton, who co-chaired the committee, the new fuel tax will raise approximately $48 million annually and will increase Wyoming's total tax on fuel, now at 14 cents to 22 cents per gallon. At that rate, he says, Wyoming's fuel tax will be equal to or below all of the surrounding states except South Dakota.

The committee also approved a 1 sales tax increase which would increase the state sale tax from 4 to 5. Even more, the committee voted to expand sales taxes to cover a myriad of business, personal, legal, engineering, management, and entertainment services. For example, a sales tax would be added to barber and beauty shop fees, laundromats, advertising costs, all computer-related services, movie tickets, and video tape rentals.

A real estate transfer tax was also approved. Real estate transactions would be taxed at .25% for the first $100,000, 0.5% above that to $300,000, 1% above that to $500,000 and 1.5% for all transactions in excess of $500,000. The tax would include sales of residential, agricultural, and industrial properties, and could bring in up to $100 million annually. Transfers of real estate between families would not be taxed.

The committee rejected a proposal to elminate the sales tax from food. Senator Peck said the committee wanted to know what revenue these other taxes would generate before eliminating sales tax from food.

The committee rejected increasing property tax assessment rations by 1% - which would amount to about a 10% property tax increase, and instituting a statewide lodging tax. Senator Peck said the committee rejected the lodging tax because it didn't want to step on the toes of counties which levy a lodging tax now.

Senator Peck explained that in the coming years, the state expects a deficit of about $70 million annually. He doesn't know how many of the committee's proposed tax increases will even make it to a full vote of the legistlature, let alone be approved by the legislature and governor. He did say that funding K-12 education in the state "really puts the legistlature's back against the wall." He continued, "Schools are driving the budget."

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