Vince Haley wants to abolish Virginia’s income taxes. And he’s running for state Senate on that pledge.
Seeking to stand out in a four-way GOP race to succeed retiring Sen. Walter Stosch, Haley says Virginia’s tax regime is hobbling the state’s economy.
“Since 2004, we have had three enormous tax increases … due in part to too many Republicans not holding the line,” says the candidate from Henrico County.
Despite the tax hikes – or because of them — Virginia’s per-capita debt has swelled from $210 in 1957 to $8,354.
Haley vows to reverse the trend. He proposes to cap state spending and use the generated surpluses to lower tax rates, with the ultimate goal of phasing out the state’s income taxes (individual, corporate and capital gains taxes).
No other Republican candidate in the Central Virginia race is on record calling for those kinds of cuts. And Haley says his mantra is resonating across the political spectrum.
“My message unifies Republicans and many Democrats who would be perfectly happy not paying income taxes,” Haley told Watchdog.org in an interview.
Virginia revenue records since 1961 show the state’s increasingly regressive income tax has reached a point of diminishing returns. Collections averaged an 8.8 annual percent gain over the past 54 years, but only averaged 4.6 percent in the past decade.
Haley, a lawyer and longtime policy aide to Newt Gingrich, points to nine states with no income tax. Led by Florida and Texas, they have prospered while Virginia’s business climate has chilled. Because the state won’t even adjust its personal income tax brackets for inflation, residents earning just $14,000 a year are pushed into the top tax tier (5.75 percent).
“Non-income tax states are where businesses are being created and where Americans want to live. It only stands to reason that we should have more of them,” Phil Kerpen, president of the nonprofit American Commitment, told US News & World Report.
Other states, including neighboring North Carolina, are moving to ratchet down income taxes. Haley wants Virginia to be the first mid-Atlantic state to go all the way.
“Higher taxes have hurt the Virginia economy and slowed the historic annual growth in revenues,” he says. That creates a treadmill effect of smaller revenue growth leading to higher taxes and debt.
In the run-up to the June 9 primary election — open to all voters — the first-time candidate believes his plan is gaining traction with Democrats, independents and Republicans in the conservative 12th Senate District.
Garnering national attention, Haley told US News: “It’s ultimately about going to the voters and saying, ‘Do you want more money in your pocket at the end of the day? Do you want politicians to control their spending so you don’t have to fill out income tax forms every year and Virginia can grow its economy and produce more jobs?’”
“Virginia was the 10th state to ratify the Constitution. I think we should be the 10th state without an income tax. It’s a winning formula, economically and politically,” he said.