NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An attempt to move the Occupy Nashville protest from the state Capitol to the city’s Public Square was short-lived.
One tent was set up on the lawn of the city government headquarters Monday night. Early Tuesday, a Metro Nashville police officer told tent dweller Matt Hammill a local ordinance barred camping there. Hammill packed up his tent and left, according to WTVF-TV (http://bit.ly/yhg6zb).
The station reported the movement might try to get a permit from the mayor’s office to resume camping on the square.
Protesters have been camped at Legislative Plaza since Oct. 7, but legislators are considering a statute that would prohibit it.
State troopers arrested protesters in October, but a Nashville judge ordered them released.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Raising Tennessee’s estate tax exemption by $500,000 would cost the state about $23 million in lost revenues, according to projections by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration.
The inheritance tax currently applies to estates worth more than $1 million, and was paid in 845 instances in the last budget year.
Haslam has said he agrees with fellow Republicans in the Legislature who want to chip away at the estate tax because it “chases capital away” by discouraging retirees from living in Tennessee.
But the governor warned that the state’s finances aren’t strong enough to afford reductions in either the estate tax or the Hall tax on interest and dividends.
“In this difficult time we still have expenses that are larger than our revenues at this point, so it’s hard to figure out how we would do that, because we have to make that budget balanced,” he said.
Republicans in the Legislature are nevertheless pressing to reduce one or both of the taxes as they gear up for their re-election campaigns.
News release from House Democratic Caucus:
NASHVILLE (December 16, 2011) – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Old Hickory, called Friday for a repeal of the Hall income tax in Tennessee.
The individual income tax is imposed on individuals and other entities receiving interest from bonds and notes and dividends from stock.
“The Republican majority has said they want to cut taxes and I think they should support this legislation and also produce a balanced budget,” said Turner (D-Old Hickory). “I am calling upon all my colleagues in the House Republican Caucus to sign on to this bill.”
Enacted in 1929, the tax was originally called the Hall income tax for the senator who sponsored the legislation. The law can be found in Tennessee Code Annotated in Title 67, Chapter 2.
Current exemptions include: persons over 65 with total income less than $16,200 for a single filer or $27,000 for a joint filer.
The rate of the tax is 6 percent of taxable income.
“I hope my friends on the other side of the aisle will help me pass this legislation to lower the tax burden on Tennesseans,” Turner said.
The tax is expected to garner roughly $204 million in the coming year.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Republican leaders in the General Assembly plan to forge ahead with efforts to reduce the state’s inheritance and Hall income taxes despite Gov. Bill Haslam’s concerns that Tennessee’s economic situation isn’t healthy enough to make up for the lost revenues.
Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he wants to take an incremental approach toward getting rid of the Hall tax on income from interest and dividends.
“I think it is doable,” the Blountville Republican said. “Obviously I think we should wait a little longer before we say ‘no’ to something like this.”
Meanwhile, Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville said in a phone interview she wants to focus on cutting the state’s inheritance tax.
“I respect that the governor has concerns about filling potential budget gaps, but House Republicans have wanted to address this issue for a long time,” Harwell said
“The fact that we don’t have an income tax has done wonders for the state,” she said. “The Republican caucus just wants to move that ball down a little bit further and work on specifically the death tax.”
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam says he doesn’t plan to eliminate Tennessee’s estate tax and Hall income tax despite efforts by several Republican lawmakers to kill the measures because they believe they’re hurting the state’s economic development.
The Republican governor told The Associated Press that both taxes are bad for the long term because they “chase capital away from the state.”
However, he said Tennessee is still in tough economic times and he doesn’t have a way to replace that revenue.
“I don’t think either one of those really are helpful,” Haslam said Thursday. “Right now it’s just hard to figure out how we’re going to replace those.”
The House and Senate approved Saturday a bill that will provide a break to an estimated 5,000 Tennessee seniors who are now paying the Hall income tax on interest and dividends.
Current law exempts those over age 65 from paying the tax if income is less than $16,200 for individuals or $27,000 for a couple filing jointly. The bill raises those exemption levels by $10,000, to $26,200 for individuals and $37,000 for joint filers.
Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, the House sponsor, said between 4,700 and 5,000 or 51,000 Hall income tax filers over age 65 are expected to become exempt under the bill, resulting in a revenue loss to the state of about $1 million. Local governments, which get a share of Hall revenue, are projected to collectively lose about $632,000.
Gov. Bill Haslam included the anticipated loss of revenue in the revised state budget submitted to the Legislature earlier this month, which was approved earlier Saturday.
The current income levels, Sexton said, mean that those relying on Social Security for most of their income still wind up paying the tax if they have dividend or interest income.
Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman, who sponsored the bill in the Senate with Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, said passage of the measure was a step toward offsetting “the oppressive nature of this tax on our senior citizens who are struggling to get by.”
Several bills were filed this session to either completely abolish the Hall tax, which brings in about $180 million to the state annually, or cover more people with exemptions. All those bills failed.
“We knew elimination entirety something could not afford,” said Yager. “We targeted the relief where it is needed the most, to our senior citizens.”
Senior citizens could receive a tax break on their investments starting in 2013 under a plan being pulled together by Gov. Bill Haslam and state lawmakers, reports Chas Sisk. More Tennesseans over 65 will be exempted from paying the so-called Hall tax on dividends and investments, Tennessee’s only tax on income, if a bill filed in the state legislature passes before the end of the session this year. Haslam has agreed to fund the legislation in the state budget, and the bill has the support of many lawmakers, including Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.
The measure would increase by $10,000 the amount of money couples and individuals over 65 can make each year and still not have to pay the Hall tax. (Note: to $26,200 and $37,00, respectively.) The bill will cost the state about $1 million in revenue annually, but supporters say it will boost the economy and provide relief to retirees.
“I just think it’s good policy in Tennessee,” Haslam said. “If you’re retired and living on dividends, I’m not sure why you should be treated so much different from someone who’s living on a salary.”
Tennessee charges a levy of 6 percent on investment income, defined by state law as dividends from stocks and interest on bonds over $1,250 a year. The tax dates to 1929 and is named after the senator who sponsored the legislation that created the tax.
Corporations and individuals pay the tax, but senior citizens do not have to pay if their total income is less than $16,200 for an individual or $27,000 for a couple. More than 127,000 taxpayers pay the Hall income tax, a group that supporters say includes many retirees.
Note: The bill in question is HB1141/SB261, sponsored by Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, and Ramsey. It’s ‘behind the budget’ in House Finance Subcommittee and awaiting a vote in Senate Finance Committee (after being recommended by the Senate Finance Tax Subcommittee).
The House approved and sent to the governor Wednesday a bill sponsored by Knoxville lawmakers that imposes a $1,000 fine on persons who knowingly expose others to hepatitis types B and C.
The House approved the bill (SB52) by Rep. Steve Hall and Sen. Stacey Campfield, both Knoxville Republicans, on a 92-1 vote. The Senate approved it earlier 31-0.
The bill would make it a misdemeanor crime for someone who has hepatitis, types B or C, to knowingly expose another person to infection through “intimate contact,” including sexual relations or sharing needles for drug injections. A similar law is now in place for those who knowingly expose another person to HIV virus and is punishable by imprisonment.
But to avoid a “fiscal note,” Campfield said earlier he reluctantly decided to set the maximum penalty at a fine of $1,000. The bill also gives a person infected with hepatitis the right to sue the person who infected him or her for medical expenses and other losses.