A Look At Tax Proposals On State And Local Ballots This Election Season

All across America, voters will be headed to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. It’s an off-year for elections—the presidential elections aren’t until next year—but there are state and local races, as well as ballot initiatives, to decide. Voters will be pulling the lever to make choices on tax matters, including property taxes, wealth taxes, and cannabis taxes.

Here’s a look at some of the measures that voters are considering—and folks are talking about—this election season.

Property Taxes

Colorado has a few measures on the ballot including property tax relief—with a twist. Under the property tax proposal—Prop HH—homeowners could see up to $1 billion per year in relief. However, under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights—called TABOR—the amount that the general fund can expand is limited. Prop HH would allow the general fund to grow at an extra 1% per year. Traditionally, the overage in the general funds is paid out to taxpayers as refunds, meaning the amounts change from year to year. But boosting the amount of money the state can keep on hand in any given year allows the state to hang on to dollars and pay out smaller refunds to taxpayers. The result, under Prop HH, is that instead of paying out refunds, the money would replace revenue for schools lost to property tax cuts.

You can read the proposal here.

In Texas, Proposition 4 would amend the state’s constitution to increase the state’s homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000 and cap the amount of tax that can be imposed on elderly and disabled homeowners. To offset a potential drop in tax revenue for schools (which are funded by property taxes), the state plans to invest some of its budget surplus in public schools.

You can read Proposition 4 here.

Ad Valorem Taxes

In Louisiana, voters will consider Proposed Amendment No. 3, which would create a constitutional amendment to provide an ad valorem tax exemption for qualified first responders. An ad valorem tax (Latin for “according to the value”) is based on property value. Under current law, most Louisianans get an exemption from parish property taxes of up to $75,000 of the value of their home. The amendment would allow local authorities to approve an additional exemption of up to $25,000 for qualified first responders, including firefighters, EMS personnel, emergency operators and dispatchers, and peace officers.

You can read the proposal here.

Excess Collections

Another measure in Colorado, Prop EE, asks taxpayers whether the state can spend revenues from taxes on cigarettes, tobacco, and other nicotine products on Colorado’s preschool program—making it free—or whether the state should reduce tax rates and issue refunds to cigarette wholesalers, tobacco product distributors, nicotine products distributors, and other taxpayers. Here’s why it’s an issue: In 2020, voters raised the tobacco taxes and created a new tax for vape products—the money funded early childhood education, including universal preschool. However, the state raised more money than it anticipated and now needs to figure out how to spend the extra.

You can read the proposal here.

Marijuana Taxes

Several cities in Missouri have marijuana taxes on the ballot, including Arnold, St. John, and St. Charles. Voters will consider an additional 3% sales tax on recreational marijuana in addition to state and county taxes on adult-use recreational marijuana. In St. John and St. Charles, the tax proposal is called Proposition M, and in Arnold, it is called Proposition 1.

You can read Proposition M here, and you can read Proposition 1 here.

Marijuana is also on the ballot in Ohio. Voters will decide whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use and, if so, to enact a 10% tax on marijuana sales. The use of medical marijuana in the state was approved in 2016.

You can read the full text of the proposal here.

Housing Programs

Also, in Ohio, Cincinnati voters will determine whether to create a fund to pay for affordable housing. If they vote yes, a separate vote would be required to fund the program by raising the city income tax from 1.8% to 2.1%.

You can read the text of the proposal here.

In New Mexico, voters in Santa Fe, New Mexico, will chime in on their own affordable housing measure. A proposal would impose a 3% excise tax on home sales over $1 million (indexed for inflation)—the proceeds would be used to fund the affordable housing program.

You can read the text of the measure here.

Sales Taxes

In South Carolina, voters in Spartanburg County will consider a one cent sales and use tax for road projects. According to the county, it’s not a new tax. Rather, the tax would replace the existing one which is set to expire in early 2024. The tax would be re-upped for six years.

You can read the ordinance language here.

A similar measure is being considered in Thomas County, Georgia. Voters will decide whether to continue the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). The sales tax, which has to be re-upped every six years. Currently, the county has a seven-cent sales tax divided as follows: four cents to the State of Georgia; one cent, known as EPLOST, for schools; one cent, known as LOST, for local services; and one cent—SPLOST—for infrastructure.

Wealth Taxes

In Texas, Proposition 3 would amend the state’s constitution to prohibit the Texas Legislature from enacting a wealth tax, “including a tax on the difference between the assets and liabilities of an individual or family.

You can read Proposition 4 here.

What’s Next?

We tend to focus a lot on federal income taxes but you likely feel state and local taxes more often—those tend to include sales taxes, inheritance taxes, and property taxes, as well as gas taxes, cigarette taxes, and even soda taxes. (For a look at state taxes, check out this article from earlier this year.)

Fortunately, when it comes to state and local tax policy, you have the chance to make your voice heard at the ballot box.

MORE FROM FORBESStates Get Creative In Efforts To Fund Schools While Not Raising TaxesMORE FROM FORBESA Look At State Income Tax Rates In 2023-And What Else To ConsiderMORE FROM FORBESStates Gearing Up For 2023 Back-To-School Sales Tax Holidays

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