Legislature(2015 - 2016)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

02/23/2016 06:00 PM Senate LABOR & COMMERCE

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06:02:45 PM Start
06:02:53 PM SB134
07:58:46 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
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           SB 134-INDIV. INCOME TAX: CREDITS; RETURNS                                                                       
6:02:53 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COSTELLO announced  the consideration of SB  134. She noted                                                               
that this is the first hearing.                                                                                                 
SENATOR GIESSEL joined the committee.                                                                                           
6:03:56 PM                                                                                                                    
KEN ALPER,  Director, Tax Division, Department  of Revenue (DOR),                                                               
introduced himself.                                                                                                             
6:04:08 PM                                                                                                                  
BRANDON  SPANOS, Deputy  Director,  Tax  Division, Department  of                                                               
Revenue (DOR),  introduced himself and began  the presentation on                                                               
SB 134  beginning with the  history of  income tax in  Alaska. It                                                               
began in  1949 at  10 percent  of the  federal tax  liability. By                                                               
1961, the  tax was 16  percent of  the federal tax  liability. In                                                               
1975,  Alaska  decoupled  from  the  federal  tax  liability  and                                                               
attached its own tax brackets.  Those rates ranged from 3 percent                                                               
to 14.5 percent  of taxable income. Alaska  repealed the personal                                                               
income tax in 1980 after the oil boom.                                                                                          
The Governor's proposal creates a  tax on an individual's income.                                                               
The proposed rate  is 6 percent of a person's  federal income tax                                                               
liability.  He  displayed a  chart  to  illustrate the  effective                                                               
Alaska rate  based on  the federal taxable  income rates  from 10                                                               
percent to  39.6 percent. In  the 10 percent bracket,  the Alaska                                                               
rate would be 0.60 percent of the federal income.                                                                               
6:05:42 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL asked in what bracket most Alaskans fall.                                                                       
MR. SPANOS offered to follow up with the information.                                                                           
MR.  ALPER noted  that DOR  submitted a  handout that  has tables                                                               
showing the effective tax impact  by different household size and                                                               
different  income  levels.  That information  would  provide  the                                                               
answer because  both income level  and household size would  be a                                                               
factor.  He added  that  federal tax  rates  are marginal  rates,                                                               
meaning the lowest X dollars are  at the lowest rate and the next                                                               
set of dollars are at the  next higher rate. To a certain extent,                                                               
Alaska's tax would be a blended average of those things.                                                                        
CHAIR COSTELLO  asked for an  explanation of the  policy decision                                                               
to establish 6 percent.                                                                                                         
MR. ALPER explained that if all  the other cuts and tax proposals                                                               
were to  pass, this  last piece completes  a balanced  budget; it                                                               
would generate  the desired  $200 million.  He noted  that Alaska                                                               
would have the  lowest income tax rate of those  states that have                                                               
a tax.                                                                                                                          
CHAIR COSTELLO asked  if she's to assume  that the administration                                                               
might increase the rate if some  of the other tax proposals don't                                                               
MR. ALPER  said he didn't believe  so, but the members  should be                                                               
mindful that  the intent of the  number in the bill  is that it's                                                               
part of a complete package that gets to a balanced budget.                                                                      
SENATOR STEVENS asked what state has the highest tax rate.                                                                      
MR. ALPER  told the  members that there  are two  attachments for                                                               
state income  tax. A few,  including Alaska, are attached  to the                                                               
idea of  federal income tax liability.  That is a flat  rate that                                                               
builds  the federal  government's  progressivity  into the  state                                                               
tax. Most  states tie their  income tax to adjusted  gross income                                                               
so it's a smaller percentage of a larger number.                                                                                
6:10:36 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. SPANOS  offered to follow  up with the  requested information                                                               
about ranking.                                                                                                                  
He displayed  a chart showing  the 2016 federal tax  brackets and                                                               
proposed  Alaska effective  rates  on taxable  income for  single                                                               
filers, married joint filers, and head of household.                                                                            
SENATOR GIESSEL  recalled that  the Governor  said 43  percent of                                                               
Alaskans would have no tax liability under this proposal.                                                                       
MR.  SPANOS  said that  estimate  is  based on  Internal  Revenue                                                               
Service (IRS)  data that  shows that 43  percent of  Americans do                                                               
not pay income tax.                                                                                                             
SENATOR GIESSEL asked for confirmation  that it could be a higher                                                               
percent; "You're actually not sure."                                                                                            
MR.  SPANOS said  that's correct;  DOR  isn't sure  based on  the                                                               
available data.                                                                                                                 
MR. ALPER added that the percentage  of people paying zero tax at                                                               
the federal level has increased over  the last 20-30 years as the                                                               
federal tax  code has  become more complicated.  There are  a lot                                                               
more  credits, the  most prominent  being the  earned income  tax                                                               
credit and  the child tax  credit that tend  to zero out  the tax                                                               
liability of  lower income individuals. The  same structure would                                                               
carry through to the Alaska state tax.                                                                                          
CHAIR COSTELLO asked  Mr. Spanos to go through a  sampling of the                                                               
tax chart  to show what  this would mean for  individual Alaskans                                                               
and families.                                                                                                                   
MR. SPANOS noted that the  document was available online. He said                                                               
there are  a lot of  assumptions built into the  calculations and                                                               
the following are estimates.                                                                                                    
   · A  married  couple  filing  joint with  no  children  and  a                                                               
     $50,000 gross income would pay a total tax of $208.                                                                        
   · For a  married couple filing  jointly with two  children and                                                               
     $50,000 gross income, the child tax credit applies and they                                                                
     would pay $15.                                                                                                             
   · For a married couple filing  jointly with three children and                                                               
     $50,000 gross income, the child tax credit applies and they                                                                
     would pay no tax.                                                                                                          
   · A single  person with no  children and $50,000  gross income                                                               
     would pay Alaska income tax of $341.                                                                                       
   · A single  person with no  children and $20,000  gross income                                                               
     would pay $59.                                                                                                             
   · A single person  with no children and  $100,000 gross income                                                               
     would pay $1,091.                                                                                                          
   · A married couple  with $100,000 gross income  and 3 children                                                               
     would pay $369.                                                                                                            
   · A married  couple with $20,000  gross income and  3 children                                                               
     would pay no tax.                                                                                                          
   · A  single  parent  filing  as head  of  household  with  two                                                               
     children and $50,000 gross income would pay $97.                                                                           
   · A  single  parent  filing  as head  of  household  with  two                                                               
     children and $100,000 gross income would pay $791.                                                                         
   · A  single  parent  filing  as head  of  household  with  two                                                               
     children and $20,000 gross income would pay no tax.                                                                        
CHAIR COSTELLO asked the average  income of most Alaskans, either                                                               
single or married with children.                                                                                                
MR.  SPANOS said  these charts  are  based on  estimates and  the                                                               
model is  based on information  from the  IRS. He wasn't  sure if                                                               
the  IRS breaks  it down  by tax  filers but  he would  check and                                                               
follow up.                                                                                                                      
6:16:56 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SPANOS said  the proposed  tax applies  to nonresidents  who                                                               
earn income  from a source  in Alaska. Residents who  earn income                                                               
from a  source outside  Alaska would receive  a credit  for taxes                                                               
paid in other states.                                                                                                           
SENATOR  STEVENS   asked  how  much  revenue   is  expected  from                                                               
nonresident workers who earn income from a source in Alaska.                                                                    
6:18:05 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ALPER  said DOR is  using information from the  Department of                                                               
Labor and  Workforce Development and  the estimate is  that about                                                               
15 percent  of the  people who  work in  Alaska don't  live here.                                                               
Roughly that  percentage of  the total is  expected to  come from                                                               
nonresidents, but  there will be  an offset from the  income from                                                               
Alaskans that  is earned  in other states.  He added  that what's                                                               
interesting with this  tax is that it captures a  lot of types of                                                               
income  that   aren't  generally  considered  wage   income.  For                                                               
example,  the   earnings  of  partnerships  and   S  corporations                                                               
currently  are not  taxed in  Alaska. If  they were  Alaska-based                                                               
entities, the owners would pay this income tax.                                                                                 
SENATOR STEVENS  asked if they'd  have an answer to  the question                                                               
at some point.                                                                                                                  
MR.   SPANOS  said   the  Department   of  Labor   and  Workforce                                                               
Development  has amounts,  but it's  difficult to  determine what                                                               
the federal tax would be. He agreed to come up with an estimate.                                                                
SENATOR STEVENS  called that  important information  for Alaskans                                                               
to know.                                                                                                                        
MR. ALPER  advised that the  15 percent  figure is what  is built                                                               
into  the  model.  That  is the  percentage  of  the  nonresident                                                               
workforce and  at the very least  15 percent of the  taxes should                                                               
come from  that source. He  added that those  are a mix  of above                                                               
average  oil  jobs  and  below  average  tourism  jobs,  and  the                                                               
weighted average is probably close  to the average. He offered to                                                               
follow up with more precise numbers as the process moves along.                                                                 
SENATOR  STEVENS  calculated  that  15 percent  of  $200  million                                                               
6:20:25 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. SPANOS continued the presentation  pointing out that the bill                                                               
also proposes a withholding element of the tax.                                                                                 
He displayed  a bar chart of  estimated Alaska tax for  a married                                                               
couple  filing jointly  with  2 children  based  on gross  income                                                               
ranging  from $20,000  to $100,000.  The estimated  tax on  gross                                                               
income of $50,000  would be $15 and the tax  on $100,000 would be                                                               
The subsequent  bar chart  estimates the  Alaska tax  for someone                                                               
filing  as head  of household  with  2 children  based on  income                                                               
ranging  from $20,000  to $100,000.  The estimated  tax on  gross                                                               
income of $40,000  would be $7, the tax on  $50,000 would be $97,                                                               
and the tax on $100,000 gross income would be $791.                                                                             
6:21:24 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MEYER asked  if rental income and the PFD  would be taxed                                                               
at the state level.                                                                                                             
MR.  SPANOS said  it depends  on  the individual  but all  income                                                               
generally is subject  to tax, with many  exceptions. For example,                                                               
the interest on federal bonds is excluded from state tax.                                                                       
SENATOR  MEYER  asked  if  $50,000  gross  income  is  a  general                                                               
threshold for paying taxes.                                                                                                     
MR. ALPER  said it varies by  filer status, but that's  about the                                                               
crossover between paying and not  paying taxes. He added that the                                                               
proposal is  for 6 percent  of gross income but  the complexities                                                               
come in when an individual has income from more than one state.                                                                 
CHAIR COSTELLO asked  how many Alaskans receive  income from more                                                               
than one state.                                                                                                                 
MR.  SPANOS said  DOR  is  still analyzing  that  but isn't  sure                                                               
there's  enough  accurate  data  at  this  point.  The  state  is                                                               
starting to receive information from  the IRS that is specific to                                                               
the  taxpayer, and  DOR may  be able  to analyze  W-2 information                                                               
based on  the address  of the  payer, which may  or may  not tell                                                               
where the income was earned.                                                                                                    
6:24:39 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. SPANOS  noted that of  the 43  states that currently  have an                                                               
income tax,  Alaska's rate would  be the lowest and  North Dakota                                                               
would be second lowest. The average  state income tax is about 30                                                               
percent of  the federal liability,  which is five  times Alaska's                                                               
proposed rate. Six states would  still have zero state income tax                                                               
and two states tax only dividends and interest.                                                                                 
Income from  subchapter S corporations  and partnerships  will be                                                               
taxed. This  pass through income  is reported on  an individual's                                                               
federal  tax return  and would  therefore be  taxed at  the state                                                               
level. Alaska has  a corporate income tax and  S corporations are                                                               
excluded  from  that tax  federally  so  they currently  are  not                                                               
subject to tax. He  noted that if an S corporation  is owned by a                                                               
corporation,  it may  be subject  to  the tax.  Income earned  in                                                               
Alaska by  both nonresidents  and residents  will be  taxed under                                                               
the  proposed  bill. A  rough  estimate  is  that 45  percent  of                                                               
Alaskans would pay no tax.                                                                                                      
6:26:28 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  COSTELLO questioned  the fairness  if only  45 percent  of                                                               
Alaskans would pay a state income tax.                                                                                          
MR. SPANOS  replied the  administration wants to  be fair  in its                                                               
approach and many  different options have been  proposed. This is                                                               
a progressive tax so that those who  are most able to pay the tax                                                               
will pay the tax.                                                                                                               
CHAIR COSTELLO  asked if  that policy call  runs through  all the                                                               
tax bills,  because the committee  heard that the tobacco  tax is                                                               
regressive and it fills 1 percent of the deficit.                                                                               
MR. ALPER said  there are a range  of types of tax  bills and the                                                               
alcohol and tobacco  taxes are regressive. Also, in  the suite of                                                               
presentations  there   are  proposals   that  might   reduce  the                                                               
permanent  fund  dividend,  which  in   many  ways  is  the  most                                                               
regressive  tax of  all if  one considers  it a  tax. That  is an                                                               
issue  of  personal  opinion and  policy  difference  across  the                                                               
spectrum, but  if Alaskans  are going to  be asked  to contribute                                                               
equally through reduced dividend on  one side of the equation, on                                                               
the other  end the proposal is  to take a greater  tax from those                                                               
with the most  ability to pay. That is where  income tax fits it,                                                               
sort of as a counterweight.                                                                                                     
6:28:42 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. SPANOS  continued the presentation saying  that DOR estimates                                                               
that half of  the budget gap ($100 million) would  come in FY2017                                                               
through withholding.  No tax returns  would be filed  until April                                                               
6:29:27 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  COSTELLO  asked   him  to  discuss  whether   or  not  the                                                               
administration  considered  exempting  trusts; if  not,  do  they                                                               
think it's important?                                                                                                           
MR. SPANOS  admitted the department is  fairly inexperienced with                                                               
individual   income  taxes   and   he  wasn't   aware  that   the                                                               
administration  knew about  the  trust issue  prior  to the  bill                                                               
being drafted.                                                                                                                  
CHAIR  COSTELLO  asked  if  DOR's  research  team  had  done  any                                                               
modeling on the  economic impacts of the income tax.  If not, she                                                               
asked if modeling would done and  if he would provide that to the                                                               
MR. SPANOS agreed  to provide an analysis of the  model and noted                                                               
that it has a drag on the economy built in.                                                                                     
6:30:45 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS asked  if there would be an  opportunity for late                                                               
filing similar to the federal rules.                                                                                            
MR. ALPER said the statutory due  date would be in April the same                                                               
as the  federal return.  Penalty and interest  is applied  to any                                                               
tax due in April and not paid  until the return is filed under an                                                               
extension, and  he presumes the  state would establish  a similar                                                               
SENATOR STEVENS asked if there is  a late filing provision in the                                                               
MR.  SPANOS said  the bill  allows  the department  to adopt  the                                                               
federal statutes  that have  an April 15  filing and  payment due                                                               
date. If the  taxpayer receives an extension to  file in October,                                                               
the tax is still due on April 15.                                                                                               
SENATOR  STEVENS  asked if  a  taxpayer  would  need to  file  an                                                               
extension for both the federal and state returns.                                                                               
MR. SPANOS said  the state's corporate income  tax piggybacks the                                                               
federal statutes  and a  federal extension  automatically applies                                                               
to the corporate tax return. He  envisions the same thing for the                                                               
individual income tax.                                                                                                          
6:33:13 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GIESSEL asked  if he's  saying  that withholdings  would                                                               
begin January 2017, assuming the bill passes.                                                                                   
MR. SPANOS said that's correct.                                                                                                 
SENATOR GIESSEL pointed  out that the fiscal  note indicates that                                                               
in  the  next  6  months  DOR will  put  in  place  44  full-time                                                               
employees, 16 part-time employees and the regulations.                                                                          
MR.  SPANOS said  a  minimum  number of  new  employees would  be                                                               
needed in FY2017  and they'd only develop the  software to accept                                                               
withholding.  The additional  employees would  come in  waves and                                                               
the regulations would take some time to write.                                                                                  
SENATOR GIESSEL  asked if the  estimated $200 million  in revenue                                                               
would be reduced  by the cost of the new  employees, the software                                                               
and the time factor.                                                                                                            
MR. SPANOS  said the  $200 million  is the  gross amount  and the                                                               
fiscal note reflects the net.                                                                                                   
MR. ALPER said  the cost to implement a personal  income tax bill                                                               
is relatively fixed to the size of the tax itself.                                                                              
CHAIR COSTELLO asked Mr. Alper to discuss the fiscal note.                                                                      
6:35:27 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ALPER pointed  out that because it's a calendar  year tax and                                                               
a fiscal  year budgeting process,  there is only $100  million in                                                               
revenue in FY2017  and not a full year of  revenue in FY2018. The                                                               
cost  of expert  assistance to  implement an  income tax  plan is                                                               
estimated  to  be  $250,000.  The   estimated  one  time  capital                                                               
appropriation is  $14 million, based  on DOR's  recent experience                                                               
implementing a tax software system.  DOR would like to bring back                                                               
that same contractor  to add a new system  alongside the existing                                                               
system.  He estimated  a  couple of  dozen  programmers would  be                                                               
working  for  a couple  of  years.  DOR  estimates 44  full  time                                                               
employees and  16 part  time employees which  equates to  52 full                                                               
time  equivalent  positions.  DOR  expects  that  80  percent  of                                                               
taxpayers will  file online, which  roughly parallels  the filing                                                               
percentages  of the  Permanent Fund  Division. That  still leaves                                                               
manual handling  and data entry  for about 80,000  paper returns.                                                               
The total  staffing cost per  year is  in the neighborhood  of $7                                                               
CHAIR COSTELLO asked where these employees will come from.                                                                      
MR.  SPANOS  said the  hope  is  to  find some  expertise  within                                                               
SENATOR STEVENS asked where the employees will be located.                                                                      
MR.  SPANOS said  DOR anticipates  that half  will be  located in                                                               
Juneau and half in Anchorage.                                                                                                   
CHAIR COSTELLO  mentioned housing availability and  asked if much                                                               
thought had gone into where the employees should be located.                                                                    
MR. SPANOS said it will be a continuing discussion.                                                                             
MR.  ALPER clarified  that the  full complement  of 60  employees                                                               
aren't in the  budget until FY2019, so there will  be a couple of                                                               
years to recruit.                                                                                                               
6:41:02 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SPANOS said  implementing  an individual  income  tax in  18                                                               
months will  be a significant  challenge. Regulations  would need                                                               
to be drafted  and there would be a need  to design, develop, and                                                               
test the technology to administer  the tax. Based on numbers from                                                               
Vermont that  has a similar population  and non-resident workers,                                                               
DOR  estimates that  approximately 450,000  tax returns  would be                                                               
filed   annually.   DOR   estimates   a   $250,000   supplemental                                                               
appropriation for a contractor to  work with the department on an                                                               
implementation    plan.    The   estimated    one-time    capital                                                               
appropriation to  build an  income tax  into the  state's current                                                               
tax revenue system is $14,000,000.  This includes withholding and                                                               
online filing. The  annual staffing cost for 52  FTE employees is                                                               
about $6 million.                                                                                                               
MR. SPANOS displayed  two charts to show how the  income tax fits                                                               
into the  Governor's plan to close  the budget gap. It  fills the                                                               
last piece with $200 million in estimated receipts.                                                                             
6:42:34 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SPANOS read  the  sectional  analysis for  SB  134 into  the                                                               
     Sec. 1. Adds a new chapter 22 in AS 43 for individual                                                                    
     income taxes.                                                                                                              
     43.22.010 Imposes  an income  tax on both  resident and                                                                    
     nonresident individuals.  The tax  is six percent  of a                                                                    
     resident's  federal  tax  liability.   The  tax  for  a                                                                    
     nonresident is  six percent of  the portion  of federal                                                                    
     tax liability that is from a source in the state.                                                                          
     43.22.020  Provides a  credit  to  residents for  taxes                                                                    
     paid to  another state based  on income earned  in that                                                                    
     other state.                                                                                                               
     43.22.030   Provides   for   annual  returns   to   the                                                                    
     Department of  Revenue with taxes  due on the  date the                                                                    
     federal tax return is due.  The taxpayer must provide a                                                                    
     copy of their IRS  return. The department is authorized                                                                    
     to pay refunds of overpaid taxes.                                                                                          
     43.22.040 Defines sources of  income within Alaska that                                                                    
     are subject to the tax.                                                                                                    
     43.22.050  Provides  for  withholding  from  wages  and                                                                    
     salaries  by  employers,   with  those  withheld  taxes                                                                    
     periodically   remitted   to  the   state.                                                                                 
     Authorizes DOR  to administer the tax.                                                                                     
     definitions for specific terms used in this section.                                                                       
     42.22.060 Authorizes DOR to administer the tax.                                                                            
     42.22.190 Adds  definitions for specific terms  used in                                                                    
     this section.                                                                                                              
     Sec.  2.  Repeals  statutes related  to  a  former  tax                                                                  
     credit for  political contributions that  existed under                                                                    
     Alaska's   prior  individual   income  tax   which  was                                                                    
     repealed in 1980.                                                                                                          
     Sec.  3. Applicability  section  establishing that  the                                                                  
     new  tax applies  to income  received on  or after  the                                                                    
     effective date of the bill.                                                                                                
     Sec. 4. Authorizes DOR to adopt regulations.                                                                             
     Sec.  5. Immediate  effective date  for  Section 4,  so                                                                  
     that regulations can be drafted immediately.                                                                               
     Sec. 6.  Effective date of  1/1/17 for the rest  of the                                                                  
6:44:32 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ALPER asked the committee to look at the individual income                                                                  
tax as part of a large package of measures to try to resolve the                                                                
fiscal situation, not as a desire to impose a tax on Alaskans.                                                                  
6:45:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COSTELLO opened public testimony.                                                                                         
6:46:12 PM                                                                                                                    
ZEFFORAH DALTON, representing  herself, Delta Junction, testified                                                               
in  opposition to  SB 134.  She said  she's 25  and just  getting                                                               
started and finding a job. This  is hard enough and having to pay                                                               
an individual income tax will make it that much more difficult.                                                                 
6:48:17 PM                                                                                                                    
SHARON  DALTON, representing  herself, Delta  Junction, testified                                                               
in opposition  to SB 134.  She said  the United for  Liberty Plan                                                               
has  a wonderful  plan for  a balanced  budget with  cuts and  no                                                               
taxes. There  is no  excuse for not  implementing this  plan, she                                                               
PATRICK DALTON,  representing himself, Delta  Junction, testified                                                               
in  opposition to  SB 134.  He quoted  Milton Freeman  and Martin                                                               
Anderson to support  his assertion that taxes  are detrimental to                                                               
an economy.  He views the  economy as a living,  breathing being.                                                               
The economy is exhaling right now  and we need to ride it through                                                               
by cutting  and staying  within expenses and  we will  rebound on                                                               
the  other side  of  the  business cycle,  he  said. That's  what                                                               
happened  during  the 1980s.  He  also  endorsed the  United  for                                                               
Liberty Plan to cut taxes and live within the budget.                                                                           
6:51:56 PM                                                                                                                    
TONY TENGS,  representing himself, Juneau, stated  support for SB
134 as  part of the solution  to the budget crisis.  He wishes it                                                               
were more a cornerstone of  the solution rather than what appears                                                               
to be an  add on. Income taxes  were much higher in  the past and                                                               
the  6 percent  appears to  be  a talking  point. His  preference                                                               
would be for  a tax closer to 10 percent.  "Having a little extra                                                               
to  make  things  work  is  going  to  be  important,"  he  said.                                                               
Adjusting the PFD is regressive and  he doesn't like it because a                                                               
three-year-old will pay as much as a millionaire.                                                                               
6:53:52 PM                                                                                                                    
CAROLINE  STORM representing  Alaska  PTA  (AKPTA), testified  in                                                               
support of  SB 134.  She said AKPTA  members are  volunteers from                                                               
across  the state  and AKPTA  supports the  Governor's plan  as a                                                               
starting point  to balance  the budget. She  pointed out  that 56                                                               
respondents  in the  latest Rasmussen  poll favor  the Governor's                                                               
Sustainable  Alaska  Plan. She  also  stated  strong support  for                                                               
income taxes. You get what you pay for, she said.                                                                               
6:55:32 PM                                                                                                                    
ALLISON ARIANS,  Region 4 Vice  President, Alaska  PTA, testified                                                               
in  support of  SB  134.  She said  she  supports the  Governor's                                                               
budget  including an  income  tax. Along  with  thousands of  PTA                                                               
members in  Alaska she  is willing  to pay  for the  services she                                                               
receives for  her children and  grandchildren in the  future. She                                                               
reported that one of AKPTA's  legislative priorities is to have a                                                               
long term  fiscal plan  for Alaska that  includes new  sources of                                                               
general fund revenue. An income  tax is an important component of                                                               
this new structure.                                                                                                             
6:57:49 PM                                                                                                                    
JUAN SAN MIGUEL,  President, Alaska PTA, testified  in support of                                                               
SB 134.  He discussed  the potential  of endangering  the state's                                                               
credit rating by  waiting to change the structure  of the state's                                                               
budget.  He pointed  out that  a credit  downgrade will  increase                                                               
costs  and have  a chilling  effect on  investments statewide.  A                                                               
sustainable budget  includes a  state income  tax and  Alaska PTA                                                               
supports that.                                                                                                                  
6:58:44 PM                                                                                                                    
DON ETHERIDGE, Alaska,  AFL-CIO, testified in support  of SB 134.                                                               
He read a resolution from the  Alaska, AFL-CIO into the record in                                                               
support of  a state income tax  for individuals. It is  among the                                                               
least   regressive  taxes   and   will   generate  the   greatest                                                               
contributions  from  the   wealthiest  citizens  and  nonresident                                                               
workers who earned $2.6 billion and  paid no taxes. [A copy is in                                                               
the bill packet.]                                                                                                               
7:01:39 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS asked if he said  that $2.6 billion was earned by                                                               
people who live outside Alaska.                                                                                                 
MR. ETHERIDGE said yes.                                                                                                         
SENATOR  STEVENS  calculated  that  would  amount  to  about  $30                                                               
million in taxes.                                                                                                               
MR. ETHERIDGE agreed.                                                                                                           
7:02:15 PM                                                                                                                    
JIMMY   FOX,  Vice   President  for   Legislation,  Alaska   PTA,                                                               
Fairbanks,  testified in  support  of SB  134.  He reported  that                                                               
Alaska state expenditures per capita  have been almost the lowest                                                               
of any state  in the nation and the individual  tax burden is the                                                               
lowest. He  said Gunnar Knapp  had it  right when he  said Alaska                                                               
needs  an  all  of  the  above strategy  to  address  the  budget                                                               
shortfall. That includes cuts to  government spending, taxes, and                                                               
tapping into the permanent fund  dividend. He urged the committee                                                               
to think about this and do  the research instead of talking about                                                               
guns on campuses.                                                                                                               
7:03:39 PM                                                                                                                    
LYNN  HOHL,  Region  6  Vice   President,  Alaska  PTA  Board  of                                                               
Managers, testified in support of  SB 134. She shared the results                                                               
of  an Alaska  PTA  survey of  482 people  from  62 towns  across                                                               
Alaska. When they  were asked to identify the  top three concerns                                                               
for  Alaska's  children,  access  to quality  education  was  the                                                               
number  one concern  followed by  student poverty,  homelessness,                                                               
and access  to food. Relatively  close third and  fourth concerns                                                               
were the school  safety issues of bullying and  peer pressure and                                                               
healthy  diet  and exercise.  The  top  challenge identified  for                                                               
Alaska  public schools  was appropriate  class  size followed  by                                                               
adequate  funding  for supplies  and  materials  and teacher  and                                                               
staff retention.  Since staff  is the  largest expense  in school                                                               
district  budgets,  and  the  number  of  certificated  staff  is                                                               
directly  related to  class sizes,  reductions in  school funding                                                               
impacts the top challenge.                                                                                                      
She related that she  paid a $10 school tax when  she worked in a                                                               
Kodiak Island cannery in 1970 and it  took 3 hours of work to pay                                                               
that  tax. She  also  paid an  income tax  on  her summer  wages.                                                               
Paying those taxes  did not discourage her from  returning to the                                                               
cannery  for 3  summers  and  moving to  Anchorage  in 1971.  She                                                               
expressed support  for an  income tax  to help  pay for  the many                                                               
beneficial services  provided by the State  of Alaska, especially                                                               
to  help  schools  obtain  reliable,  adequate  funding  that  is                                                               
protected from the volatility of oil prices.                                                                                    
MS. HOHL shared  a recent experience sitting next  to a gentleman                                                               
who worked  in one of Alaska's  active mines and was  flying home                                                               
for R&R.  She asked what he  would think of having  to pay income                                                               
taxes in  Alaska to help  support schools.  He said of  course he                                                               
didn't  want to  pay more  taxes,  but understood  that with  the                                                               
price of oil that nonresident workers  may need to pay taxes when                                                               
working in Alaska.                                                                                                              
7:07:55 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHELLE  LATHAM,  representing  herself, Wasilla,  testified  in                                                               
opposition to SB  134. She questioned how it is  fair to impose a                                                               
tax  that  will  be  paid   by  just  half  the  population.  The                                                               
administration said  this tax is  intended to hit those  who have                                                               
"the  most ability  to  pay," but  she feels  it  will hit  those                                                               
foolish enough to  work. She listed the  Temporary Assistance for                                                               
Needy Families (TANF) program that  allows people to not work for                                                               
5 years  straight and still  receive cash  assistance, disability                                                               
requirements  that allow  someone to  be declared  incompetent to                                                               
work  yet they  can be  seen driving  around the  community, easy                                                               
income  qualification  parameters  for  Denali Kid  Care,  and  a                                                               
Medicaid system  where recipients have  no skin in the  game. She                                                               
referenced  studies that  show that  when  work requirements  are                                                               
stricter, welfare  decreases and  employment rates  increase, and                                                               
suggested that  job programs need  to be monitored  more closely.                                                               
She said  the solution is  to control  spending and pass  the PFD                                                               
7:11:45 PM                                                                                                                    
JIM   LATHAM,  representing   himself,   Wasilla,  testified   in                                                               
opposition to SB  134. He referred to economic  studies that show                                                               
that introducing an  income tax in a state that  doesn't have one                                                               
does a lot of damage to  the state's economy. He pointed out that                                                               
the price  of oil  is likely  to be  around $30  for a  number of                                                               
years, which will  hurt Alaska's economy. He believes  it is more                                                               
than  fair  to tax  nonresident  workers  at  a higher  rate.  He                                                               
encouraged   more  budget   cutting  measures   and  specifically                                                               
mentioned  welfare and  health  and social  services  as well  as                                                               
education. He would  rather see no PFD than an  income tax due to                                                               
the negative long-term consequences.                                                                                            
7:14:19 PM                                                                                                                    
ELISHA WAUGH, representing  himself, Anchorage, Alaska, testified                                                               
in opposition  to SB 134  because an  income tax will  take money                                                               
out of workers'  paychecks. He has been struggling  to save money                                                               
to buy a home and an income tax will make it much harder.                                                                       
7:15:05 PM                                                                                                                    
RAY KREIG, representing himself,  Anchorage, Alaska, testified in                                                               
opposition to  SB 134. The  Governor's income tax bill  will take                                                               
$200 million a year out  of family budgets while state government                                                               
has  wasted $5.5  billion  on gas  pipeline  dreams that  experts                                                               
agree is unlikely to happen for  decades. He urged both bodies to                                                               
push back and try to restore  credibility to the state by cutting                                                               
billions from  the budget and  stopping waste before  thinking of                                                               
an income tax or cutting permanent fund dividends.                                                                              
7:17:43 PM                                                                                                                    
HANS RODVIK,  representing himself, Anchorage,  Alaska, testified                                                               
in opposition to  SB 134. He described the  individual income tax                                                               
as the most  egregious of the 8 bills the  Governor introduced to                                                               
close  the  budget  gap.  He  listed  three  reasons  why  he  is                                                               
adamantly opposed  to resurrecting the  income tax: it  is unfair                                                               
and immoral,  jobs will  be lost, and  economic growth  in Alaska                                                               
will  be stifled.  He opined  that the  state is  in this  fiscal                                                               
crisis  for  two  reasons. First,  Alaskans  have  allowed  their                                                               
government  to spend  irresponsibly  for 40  years  and have  not                                                               
demanded  measures to  secure  fiscal  sustainability for  future                                                               
generations.  Second, the  state  has been  unable to  adequately                                                               
develop its abundant resources that  should have helped diversify                                                               
the reliance on oil revenues.                                                                                                   
MR.  RODVIK encouraged  the legislature  to  look at  alternative                                                               
ways to reduce  the deficit and listed funded  but unfilled PCNs,                                                               
state  worker  healthcare  contributions,  Medicaid  reform,  and                                                               
corrections reform.                                                                                                             
7:22:42 PM                                                                                                                    
RYAN  MCKEE, representing  himself, Anchorage,  Alaska, said  one                                                               
reason he is opposed  to SB 134 is that state  spending is out of                                                               
control  and unstainable.  He cited  the number  of unfilled  but                                                               
still funded positons in state  government as an example. Second,                                                               
implementing   an  income   tax  would   hurt  Alaskans   without                                                               
addressing  the issue  of Alaska's  growing  debt. The  estimated                                                               
$200 million in annual revenue would  take money out of the hands                                                               
of Alaskans that  is needed to cover the high  cost of living. He                                                               
urged the committee to oppose SB 134.                                                                                           
7:23:50 PM                                                                                                                    
JEREMY   PRICE,  Alaska   Director,  Americans   for  Prosperity,                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska, testified in opposition  to SB 134. He said an                                                               
appropriate saying here is that  when you tax something more, you                                                               
get  less and  when you  tax less  you get  more. He  related his                                                               
concern  with  the economic  impacts  of  taking money  from  the                                                               
private sector to  fund government because the years  of high oil                                                               
prices demonstrated that government  will spend what it receives.                                                               
He  cited a  study called  "Rich States  Poor States"  that found                                                               
that  states  that  rely  primarily  on  income  taxes  routinely                                                               
underperform states  that do not  levy taxes on  personal income.                                                               
He urged the committee to reject a state income tax.                                                                            
7:25:42 PM                                                                                                                    
DONALD   WESTLUND   representing   himself,   Ketchikan,   Alaska                                                               
testified in  opposition to SB 134.  He said this bill  will only                                                               
burden people who  pay federal income tax, not those  who rely on                                                               
handouts. He  questioned whether the  tax would be  repealed once                                                               
the deficit reaches zero. He  stated support for a permanent fund                                                               
bill  that takes  all the  earnings  and a  consumption tax  that                                                               
exempts  food and  fuel.  He questioned  how  government can  ask                                                               
citizens  to pay  an income  tax  when the  legislature is  still                                                               
looking at purchasing a $40 million building in Anchorage.                                                                      
7:27:41 PM                                                                                                                    
TOMI   MADAFFARI,   representing   himself,   Ketchikan,   Alaska                                                               
testified  in  opposition to  SB  134.  He suggested  the  public                                                               
should be able  to vote on this  matter. He asked if  there was a                                                               
chance  that state  employees could  receive lower  paychecks and                                                               
benefits to help with the deficit.  He described an income tax as                                                               
an extortion  of working  people and the  progress of  this state                                                               
and country.                                                                                                                    
7:30:21 PM                                                                                                                    
LANCE  ROBERTS, representing  himself,  Ketchikan, Alaska  stated                                                               
that SB  134 isn't a  good idea because  taking money out  of the                                                               
private sector  and putting it  in the government  sector results                                                               
in  a  decrease  in  both  jobs  and  economic  output.  Further,                                                               
initiating an income tax to capture  money from the 15 percent of                                                               
nonresident workers  imposes a huge  penalty on  Alaska citizens.                                                               
The bill also  implements an estate tax. That tax  takes away the                                                               
ability  to transfer  money between  generations, which  is often                                                               
used to build  new businesses. Handling the  withholding tax will                                                               
also impose more cost on private  enterprise as well as local and                                                               
state government  entities, he  said, because  people have  to be                                                               
hired to take care of that.  He stressed that the worst provision                                                               
in the bill is allowing  the department to incorporate provisions                                                               
of the Internal Revenue Code  into the regulations; adding: "This                                                               
would  allow  this  or  future  administrations  to  inflict  the                                                               
terroristic  activities  of  the  IRS on  Alaskan  citizens."  He                                                               
concluded that  passing this  bill "is  the worst  possible thing                                                               
you can do."                                                                                                                    
7:34:02 PM                                                                                                                    
WES HUMBYRD,  representing himself,  Homer, Alaska,  testified in                                                               
firm support  of SB 134.  His feeling is  that you either  pay to                                                               
play  or you  don't play.  The young  people who  are complaining                                                               
about  no jobs  need to  find out  what the  real world  is about                                                               
because there  is plenty of  infrastructure in Alaska  for people                                                               
to make a living. He  suggested reintroducing the school tax that                                                               
used to be withdrawn from a worker's first paycheck.                                                                            
7:35:18 PM                                                                                                                    
KEN LANDFIELD, representing himself,  Homer, Alaska, testified in                                                               
support of SB  134. This is the fairest and  least onerous of the                                                               
proposed  revenue sources,  and  it gives  Alaskans direct  input                                                               
into  the state  budget. Those  who  can least  afford are  least                                                               
impacted. It's also  a good selling point that  Alaska would have                                                               
the lowest  tax in the nation.  He also favors bringing  back the                                                               
school tax.                                                                                                                     
7:36:44 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL MCCARTHY, representing  himself, Homer, Alaska, testified                                                               
in support of SB 134. He  recently polled 200 Homer residents and                                                               
found  that everyone  was  in favor  of a  state  income tax  and                                                               
vacating the  new Anchorage legislative information  office (LIO)                                                               
building  as  soon  as  possible.  That  same  group  unanimously                                                               
opposed a statewide sales tax. He  opined that a state income tax                                                               
will increase  citizen oversight  of legislative  efforts because                                                               
they will be more engaged.                                                                                                      
7:38:12 PM                                                                                                                    
KELSI  PULCZINSKI,   representing  herself,   Anchorage,  Alaska,                                                               
testified in opposition  to SB 134. She works full  time and is a                                                               
fulltime student.  She must  carefully budget  both her  time and                                                               
money  to  be  successful  and   pay  for  school.  The  proposed                                                               
individual  income  tax  would result  in  significant,  negative                                                               
changes  to   her  life.  The   cost  of  living   in  Anchorage,                                                               
particularly housing, is already  high and additional taxes would                                                               
make it more difficult to  maintain her independence. This is not                                                               
the way  to solve the fiscal  problems of the state.  The problem                                                               
is not a revenue shortfall, it  is a spending surplus as a result                                                               
of a  bloated state government.  Before considering  increased or                                                               
new taxes, significantly cut spending,  eliminate waste, and rein                                                               
in  state government  to constitutional  and sustainable  levels.                                                               
This means limiting the funds to which the state has access.                                                                    
7:40:25 PM                                                                                                                    
JAMES  SQUYRES,  representing  himself,  Rural  Deltana,  Alaska,                                                               
testified in  opposition to SB  134. He maintained that  the size                                                               
of government should  be reduced to the  inflation and population                                                               
adjusted 2006 level  instead of entertaining the idea  of a state                                                               
income tax or  reducing the PFD. He encouraged  members to listen                                                               
to  Brad  Kiethley's common  sense  testimony  before the  Senate                                                               
State Affairs  Committee [on 2/4/16].  He stated support  for the                                                               
judicious  use of  the  earnings  reserve and  the  power of  the                                                               
majority  to lower  the overall  budget to  $4.5 billion  or more                                                               
this year.  A state  income tax  would only  bring in  about $200                                                               
million  and he  believes there  are  easier ways  to raise  that                                                               
amount under the current structure.  For example, the legislature                                                               
should  revisit the  issue of  continuing to  apply the  original                                                               
inflation  proofing formula  to  the permanent  fund, because  80                                                               
percent of  the investments are self-inflation-proofed.  He urged                                                               
the committee to kill the bill.                                                                                                 
7:43:27 PM                                                                                                                    
PAM  GOODE, representing  herself,  Rural  Deltana, testified  in                                                               
opposition to SB 134. She  maintained that the proposed taxes are                                                               
not necessary for  an efficient government. She  pointed out that                                                               
the  bill  does two  major  things.  It  collects data  from  the                                                               
federal government and it goes  after earned income. She said the                                                               
federal government already  has a hand in one of  our pockets and                                                               
this bill  allows state government to  put its hand in  the other                                                               
one. That  is a violation.  Noting that Mr. Spanos  described the                                                               
tax as progressive, she pointed  out that progressive taxation is                                                               
the second  plank on  the Communist  Manifesto. She  restated her                                                               
opposition to SB 134.                                                                                                           
7:45:36 PM                                                                                                                    
ANGIE HUTCHINGS,  representing herself, MatSu,  Alaska, testified                                                               
in opposition  to SB 134.  She asked when  the state is  going to                                                               
actually balance  the budget and how  much the state is  going to                                                               
take from  the people  before the  people have  no more  to give.                                                               
It's time  for the state  to look at  the budget and  admit there                                                               
isn't  enough  money to  support  everything  She favors  cutting                                                               
school funding  and cutting  funding for a  lot of  programs. She                                                               
has yet to  hear a legislator say "We don't  have money for this,                                                               
it's  time to  cut it."  Stop asking  the people  for more  money                                                               
because they don't have it.                                                                                                     
7:49:49 PM                                                                                                                    
STUART  THOMPSON,  representing  himself, Meadow  Lakes,  Alaska,                                                               
testified in  support of SB  134. He said past  indiscretions and                                                               
the refusal to  learn from our political heritage has  led to the                                                               
current financial  crisis and  trapped us  into enacting  a state                                                               
income  tax. Over  10 years  ago  he tried  to proliferate  state                                                               
income planning  by the legislature,  but he was brushed  off. He                                                               
urged the committee to entertain  the idea that ordinary citizens                                                               
might   help  solve   the   financial   problems.  He   suggested                                                               
simultaneously enacting  an income tax  with a sunset  clause and                                                               
calling  bands of  citizens together  to offer  suggestions about                                                               
how  the  state can  ethically  and  reasonably increase  revenue                                                               
through  new income  systems. Second,  the legislature  must rise                                                               
above  the irrational  notion that  it can  get things  for free.                                                               
This  means stop  allocating state  funds to  match federal  fund                                                               
bribery.  Third, believe  that  Alaska and  its  citizens can  be                                                               
self-supporting  and self-sufficient  and  then  apply the  great                                                               
financial  management  maxim:  income  greater  than  outgo  plus                                                               
7:53:28 PM                                                                                                                    
PAT CHAMBERS  representing herself, Fairbanks,  Alaska, testified                                                               
in opposition  to SB  134. She  said an  income tax  punishes the                                                               
people  who  work and  encourages  the  people who  receive  free                                                               
services.  She  suggested  cutting regulations  and  services  on                                                               
education  and  health  and social  services.  Have  a  long-term                                                               
spending plan  and save for rainy  days, don't touch the  PFD and                                                               
keep Alaska free, she said.                                                                                                     
7:55:53 PM                                                                                                                    
SCOTT OGAN,  representing himself,  Palmer, Alaska,  testified in                                                               
opposition to SB  134. He reported that he  recently retired from                                                               
a state job. Before he left,  he reduced his program budget by 50                                                               
percent  by   laying  off  himself  and   eliminating  lower  end                                                               
positions.  He  suggested  others  could do  this.  He  expressed                                                               
disappointment  that the  focus is  on passing  taxes instead  of                                                               
looking at programs  the legislature has created  since the state                                                               
started  receiving  oil  wealth.  He  noted  that  Representative                                                               
Keller  has  a  list  of   those  programs.  Until  programs  are                                                               
eliminated and we're  back to a constitutional  government we can                                                               
afford,  it's ill-advised  and premature  to  initiate an  income                                                               
tax, he said.                                                                                                                   
7:58:06 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COSTELLO  held SB  134 in  committee with  public testimony                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 134.pdf SL&C 2/23/2016 6:00:00 PM
SB 134
SB 134 - Governor's Transmittal Letter.pdf SL&C 2/23/2016 6:00:00 PM
SB 134
SB 134 - Hearing Request.pdf SL&C 2/23/2016 6:00:00 PM
SB 134
SB 134 - Fiscal Note DOA.pdf SL&C 2/23/2016 6:00:00 PM
SB 134
SB 134 - Fiscal Note DOR.pdf SL&C 2/23/2016 6:00:00 PM
SB 134
SB 134 - DOR Income Tax Presentation.pdf SL&C 2/23/2016 6:00:00 PM
SB 134
SB 134 - DOR Electronic Filing Statistics.pdf SL&C 2/23/2016 6:00:00 PM
SB 134
SB 134 - Alaska Income Tax Matrix 2.23.16.pdf SL&C 2/23/2016 6:00:00 PM
SB 134
SB 134 - Support Resolution ALF-CIO.pdf SL&C 2/23/2016 6:00:00 PM
SB 134
SB 134- Opposition Letter - NFIB.pdf SL&C 2/23/2016 6:00:00 PM
SB 134
SB 134 - Alaska Trust Company Letter.pdf SL&C 2/23/2016 6:00:00 PM
SB 134
SB 134 - Alaska Trust Company State Income Tax Chart.pdf SL&C 2/23/2016 6:00:00 PM
SB 134
SB 134 - Alaska Trust Company Jurisdiction Rankings.pdf SL&C 2/23/2016 6:00:00 PM
SB 134
SB 134 - Alaska Trust Company Dynasty_Trust_Rankings.pdf SL&C 2/23/2016 6:00:00 PM
SB 134
SB 134 - Alaska Trust Company Bob Keebler Quote.pdf SL&C 2/23/2016 6:00:00 PM
SB 134
SB 134 - Opposition Letter Gary Wilken.pdf SL&C 2/23/2016 6:00:00 PM
SB 134
SB 134 - Forbes Article - Alaska Has A Bigger Problem Than Low Oil Prices - Forbes.pdf SL&C 2/23/2016 6:00:00 PM
SB 134
SB 134 - Press - Daily Signal - Almost Half of US Residents Still Pay No Federal Income Tax.pdf SL&C 2/23/2016 6:00:00 PM
SB 134