Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of stories about the 10 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution which will be voted on by Texans Nov. 5

Texas – along with Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming – is one of only seven states that doesn't levy a state tax on personal income. A proposed amendment to the state's Constitution aims to keep it that way...permanently.

Proposition No. 4 on the ballot this November is titled "The constitutional amendment prohibiting the imposition of an individual income tax, including a tax on an individual's share of partnership and unincorporated association income."

Howard County Judge Kathryn Wiseman agreed to comment on the proposition, and warns voters to read the wording of the proposition carefully.

"Watch the wording on the ballot for Proposition 4," she said. "The best way to make sure your vote counts as you intend is to think: 'I support (I'm voting FOR) "The constitutional amendment prohibiting the imposition of an individual income tax, including a tax on an individual's share of partnership and unincorporated association income."' In other words, 'I'm voting to keep the state from adding an income tax on individuals.'

"Or 'I oppose (I'm voting AGAINST): "The constitutional amendment prohibiting the imposition of an individual income tax, including a tax on an individual's share of partnership and unincorporated association income."' In other words, 'I'm voting to allow the State to begin adding an income tax on individuals.'"

Wiseman said Texas Constitution currently allows the legislature to pass an individual income tax, but any such measure must be approved by a statewide referendum, which must clearly outline the tax rate to be imposed.

"The proposed amendment would eliminate the language allowing a personal income tax and requiring the referendum," Wiseman said. "Instead, it changes Article 8 Sec. 24-a of the Constitution to 'The legislature may not impose a tax on the net incomes of individuals, including an individual’s share of partnership and unincorporated association income.'"

A state income tax could help lower property taxes and sales tax, said the judge.

"Those supporting a Texas Income Tax point out that collecting income tax from individuals could help lower property taxes and sales tax, because part of the money collected would go toward the high cost of education, which costs about 60 percent of our Property Tax levy," she said. "Businesses would pay less tax if Texas collected personal income tax."

At the same time, those costs would be replaced by the additional cost of the income tax itself.

Wiseman urged local voters to make their opinion of a state income tax known in the November election.

"Not voting on these important Constitutional Amendments sends a message to our Texas Legislators that we as taxpayers don’t care what they get up to down in Austin," she said. "If you don’t vote, you can’t complain!"

Next week's article will focus on Proposition No. 5, which would dedicate sales tax revenue received on sporting goods to parks, wildlife and historical agencies.

Contact Staff Writer Roger Cline at 432-263-7331 ext. 235, or by email at reporter@bigspringherald.com.

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