Special session an opportunity for holistic approach to tax reform, expert says

04/06/2017 12:26 PM

With the regular session in the rearview mirror lawmakers, advocates and others will now focus on the road ahead, which Gov. Matt Bevin has said will include a special session on tax and pension reform.

Mark Sommer, an attorney specializing in tax law with Frost Brown Todd in Louisville, recently reviewed areas ripe for reform and where the conversation may lead when it comes to reforming the state’s antiquated tax code.

Gov. Bevin and his administration have been working quietly on their plan for the last “six-months minimum,” crafting their approach to a comprehensive tax package, Sommer said.

Sommer is advocating for a “holistic approach” which would include multiple constituencies, including country and city governments.

“Any look needs to be a very broad view — I would advocate from a policy perspective to find out what’s working, and what’s not,” he said. “Also, that we get a 21st Century tax platform.”

In his State of the Commonwealth address in February, Bevin advocated for revenue generating tax reforms to address the billions in the underfunded state pension systems.

Lawmakers have publicly distanced the idea of raising any taxes, but Sommer said one way a plan could address additional revenue could be to tax groceries.

“New revenue, but more to the point, consistent and deliverable revenue going forward is the key,” Sommer said of any plan aimed at raising revenue to pay down pension debt.

As Kentucky takes a look at reforming the tax code, lawmakers will likely look to other states to learn what worked and where improvements can be made.

“We have the benefit of hindsight, if ever Kentucky being slow to move — maybe that’s a positive in this regard,” Sommer said.

The entire interview with Sommer is available to view in the video below.

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