Terry McAuliffe proposes local tax reforms


Terry McAuliffe, left, and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (Bob Brown, Steve Helber (AP))

Terry McAuliffe offered a plan to reduce and reform a handful of local taxes Friday, seeking to position himself as the Virginia gubernatorial candidate best-equipped to stimulate job growth in the commonwealth.

McAuliffe’s (D) opponent, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R), a longtime proponent of smaller government and lower taxes, is expected to unveil a broader plan to reshape Virginia’s tax system next week.

McAuliffe’s proposal calls for ending or cutting the Business, Professional Occupation Licensing tax, the Machinery and Tool tax and the Merchants Capital tax. All three local levies, McAuliffe suggested, discourage investment and growth by small businesses.

McAuliffe also said he would convene a task force of government and business leaders to develop specific plans for reforming those three taxes. The proposals would need to be revenue-neutral, McAuliffe said, because many localities rely on them to balance the books.

“The top priority for the next Governor should be to help strengthen and diversify Virginia’s economy in the face of a changing economic landscape,” McAuliffe said in a release. “As we do that, we can’t afford to have a system of complicated, anti-growth taxes for small businesses. We need to update our local tax systems to make it easier for businesses to start and grow, and make sure that Virginia’s economy remains competitive.”

Cuccinelli spokeswoman Anna Nix dismissed McAuliffe’s plan as “a political document designed to garner a few headlines,” and tied the issue back to recent controversies surrounding the Democratic nominee.

“It is comical that party boss Terry McAuliffe would seek to discuss tax policy considering his refusal to release his tax returns to the public or the inability of GreenTech to pay Tunica County, Mississippi the taxes they were owed for his unsuccessful car company, which has yet to produce real cars or jobs,” Nix said.

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