Creating New Jobs in W.Va.

Next Tuesday may be the deadline to file both state and federal income tax returns, but we West Virginians finished paying our taxes today, according to this year’s “Tax Freedom Day” report. That is something to celebrate and for which to pat governors and legislators during the past several years on the back.

It could even be an excellent economic development tool, all other things being equal. Unfortunately, they are not. Back to that in a moment.

Each year, The Tax Foundation releases its Tax Freedom Day report. Dates for both states and the nation as a whole are reported. They are based on the organization’s calculation of what day of the year people, in general, have earned enough money to pay their local, state and federal tax bills.

Today is Tax Freedom Day for West Virginians. Only eight other states had dates earlier than ours, and that is something about which to be very happy.

Even more encouraging is the fact that this year’s West Virginia Tax Freedom Day is a full nine days earlier than last year’s. In other words, Mountain State legislators are going in the right direction – toward a lower tax burden on individuals and families.

Because both small businesses and large corporations pay attention to quality of life for their employees, the Tax Freedom Day numbers can be one component of a sales package state officials use to lure new businesses to West Virginia.

But corporate taxes and regulations also are part of the calculation companies make. In that regard, we in the Mountain State have work to do.

Also according to The Tax Foundation, our business tax rates are the 23rd highest in the nation. That certainly is not bad – but it also is not good enough to make West Virginia a shining star in the economic development world. The combined local and state tax burden per capita (in 2011) is even less attractive, at the 15th highest in the United States.

Both in holding taxes for individuals and families down and in controlling debt, state officials have done well for several years. Now, however, it is time for them to pay more attention to making the state more attractive to businesses that create good jobs for West Virginians.