taxes

USGS via TopoQuest

A foreign trade zone, or FTZ, near the Casper International Airport will be expanded to cover most of Natrona County.

Parts of the Mountain West region have joined a number of state legislatures introducing tax credits to help low-income Americans. Utah could be the latest.

Senate President Eli Bebout Speaks To Full Senate
Cooper McKim

It’s the third of four weeks in the 2018 budget session. With the current revenue crunch, many bills have revolved around spurring new revenue, finding new sources, or cutting back on spending. And for energy, it’s no different. The surviving bills also come down to money. Thirteen bills arose related to energy, with only three still moving through the system. There are others that relate, but are not directly tied to energy.

Powder River Basin Resource Council's Shannon Anderson speaking to the Senate Minerals Committee about SF-98
Tennessee Watson / Wyoming Public Radio

A bill looking to cut future severance taxes for oil and gas companies was approved by the Senate Minerals Committee. Senate File 98 would cut severance taxes in half during the third year of production until the end of its fourth year.  

Cody Senator Hank Coe said the goal is to attract new energy operations to Wyoming over another mineral producing state. Coe said that it's worked before. 

Tennessee Watson

The Wyoming House of Representatives wrapped up week one of the 2018 Budget Session on Friday shortly before 3:30 p.m., which has some policymakers disappointed.

 

The last day to introduce bills, the early adjournment meant there were over 15 bills that got the ax without even being discussed. House Minority Leader Cathy Connolly said the House never got to discuss a tobacco tax, a sales and use tax rate and changes to a real estate tax, among others.

 

Bob Beck

This week, after months of discussion, a legislative committee defeated a number of tax increase measures. The Joint Revenue Committee was hoping to find money to pay for a revenue shortfall that some thought could reach a billion dollars. Then a funny thing happened over the summer, the revenue picture improved just enough that taxes could be avoided. 

Wyoming Legislature

After hearing that the state’s revenue picture is improving thanks to rising oil prices, the legislature’s Joint Revenue Committee rejected five tax proposals. 

They were intended to help address a $500 million shortfall in education funding. The committee defeated a one percent leisure and hospitality tax on a tie vote and refused to consider four other proposals that included raising sales and property taxes. 

House Minority Leader Cathy Connolly says when the short-term funding crisis disappeared this fall, there was no longer an appetite for taxes.                     

Senator Mike Enzi (R)

Wyoming’s Senior Senator, Mike Enzi, is getting a seat at the head table in the GOP’s rush to get a tax reform bill passed in the coming weeks.

As chair of the Senate Budget Committee Enzi has played a key role in getting the Republican tax reform proposal as far along as it currently is, but now comes the really hard part: melding the Senate bill with the House bill. Enzi is on the conference committee tasked with wedding the two divergent bills. He says he’s not just hearing input from all corners of Capitol.

endowyo.biz

  

  

  

On Monday the group ENDOW, which stands for Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming, will release its preliminary findings on ways to diversify the state’s economy. 

ENDOW has been working while many have been quietly skeptical, but those involved in the effort think they will finally break through.

Bob Beck

This week the legislature’s Revenue Committee pushed off a number of tax measures until the end of January.

The committee has been trying to find revenue to offset losses in revenue that led to massive budget cuts, including a renewed effort to reduce education funding. Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard speaks with News Director Bob Beck about this. 

C-SPAN

The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have both passed a tax bill — and that has implications for the energy industry in Wyoming.

Renewable energy organizations who signed a letter opposing certain provisions in the Congressional tax reform bills
ACORE, AWEA, CRES, SEIA

The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have both passed a tax reform bill, and both bills have the renewable energy industry nervous. That includes four organizations 

Design by Tennessee Watson

Wyoming lawmakers are coming at shortfalls in education funding from multiple directions as they head into the 2018 Budget Session. Through the work of interim legislative committees, they are looking for efficiencies in education and ways of generating revenue, hoping to meet somewhere in the middle.

Wyoming Education Association

Teachers often spend their own money on classroom supplies. Currently, they can be repaid up to $250 of that through a federal tax deduction. But, that’s now up for debate in Congress. The Senate GOP tax plan would double the deduction to $500, but the House plan cuts it all together.

 

Kathy Vetter, president of the Wyoming Education Association, said the deduction is an important vote of support for teachers.

 

CSPAN

Wyoming’s lawmakers in the nation’s capital are trying to help their party deliver on its promise to overhaul the nation’s tax code.

Wyoming’s senior Senator Mike Enzi took the lead last week as he helped his party take its first steps to tax reform by passing a budget blueprint that allows the GOP to overhaul the tax code without any Democratic support. As chair of the Budget Committee Enzi led the fight to pass the budget on the Senate floor.

Wyoming Legislature

Early this summer lawmakers were looking at a massive shortfall in education funding and overall revenue. That pushed lawmakers into a lengthy discussion about possible tax hikes. The idea was to hold a number of hearings over the summer on a variety of proposals and then pass bills that would raise $100 million, $200 million and $300 million. But a funny thing happened on the way to passing tax legislation the state’s revenue picture improved.

treasurer.state.wy.us

One reason some lawmakers have backed off on their support of tax increases is that Wyoming is making a lot of money from investments.

Unrealized gains sit around $900 million and even the energy industry has had a slight uptick.

State Treasurer Mark Gordon says that it’s true, things are good. But he also tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck that lawmakers should be careful about using investment money versus a more stable source of revenue. 

Madelyn Beck/Inside Energy

Millions of gallons of salty wastewater are produced each day wherever there’s oil and gas production. Most states inject wastewater deep underground.  In Wyoming, above-ground wastewater ponds are still used.

They aren’t what people would expect, though — especially the fountains. A little larger and they’d be perfect to put in front of Las Vegas casino, fanning out in all directions.

The fountains aren’t just for looks, though. They help evaporate the water and hold off bacteria, keeping the smell down.

Jan Kronsell (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

On a Friday morning in June, you could count the number of riders on Jackson’s town shuttle on two hands. The bus seats fewer than 30 people, but it was still only about a third full. Meanwhile, summertime traffic had set in, and the bus was squeezing between cars to get through the famous Jackson Town Square.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR

Wyoming legislators killed a proposal June 29 that could have given a tax break to the state’s uranium industry. The vote wasn’t close.

Eleven of 12 present lawmakers voted no to a tax break during a meeting by the Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Interim Committee.

The Wyoming Mining Association was hoping to secure a tax break for uranium companies. The industry has been struggling, seeing layoffs and an 85 percent price drop since 2007.

Pexels

The Wyoming Senate passed a bill Wednesday to require internet retailers like Amazon to collect sales tax on sales to Wyoming residents. 

Only three Senators opposed the bill. Lander Senator Cale Case said he thinks the smooth passage of the bill has to do with creating a more level playing field between local and online retailers.

A federal bankruptcy court judge gave Peabody Energy the go-ahead on Wednesday to pay nearly $30 million in property taxes in four states while the company makes its way through bankruptcy.

Peabody Energy can now make payments to counties in Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Indiana. One missed payment of around $1 million hit a small Colorado school district particularly hard. The state had to dip into its emergency fund to bail out the South Routt School District after taxes were not paid in June.

Wikipedia Creative Commons

The legislature’s joint revenue committee wrapped up two days of discussions on possible tax increases to deal with Wyoming’s declining revenue picture. 

The committee looked at everything from increasing property taxes to pay for an education shortfall to letting communities add a sales tax on food. But at the end of the two days, the committee only agreed to draft two bills, both dealing with increasing the wind tax.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

A Wyoming legislative committee is looking into ways to help cities, towns, and counties raise more money, but a localized food tax failed to gain support Thursday.

State Senator Ogden Driskill of Devils Tower said the state will likely not be able to keep providing money for local government at the rate it has in the past. Lawmakers approved 105 million dollars for local entities for the next two years, a decrease of 78 million from the previous two years. 

Wikimedia Commons

The Panama Papers data leak revealed that millionaires and others may be hiding assets in shell companies around the world. Wyoming’s secretary of state says 24 of the businesses mentioned in the Papers are registered there. Bob Beck reports on how the state’s tax laws make it a tax haven.

The state of Wyoming was amongst the locations revealed in the data leak of the Panama Papers, that involved the large offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The leak included 11.5 million confidential files and pointed to millionaires and others that may be hiding their money in Wyoming based shell companies.

Since coal companies are no longer buying coal leases, Wyoming may need to find a new way to fund school construction.

Friday the legislature’s joint revenue committee was asked to support legislation that would increase either property or sales taxes to pay for school construction.  But several legislators say it’s too early to consider a tax.  Revenue Committee member Tom Reeder has voted against the last several budgets and he’s calling for lawmakers to stop spending first. 

“I have heard nobody talk about…we could make government more efficient by doing XYZ.”

Miles Bryan

Let’s start in 2011, when Wyoming was rocked by an investigation from the national news agency Reuters entitled, A Little House on the Secrets on the Great Plains.

“When you think of traditional secrecy and tax havens you most likely think of Switzerland, and the Caribbean,” begins the Reuters reporter in the accompanying video. She’s standing under the “Welcome to Wyoming” sign on I-80 outside of Cheyenne.

Wikipedia Creative Commons

Wyoming continues to rank number one in the nation in taxes for business. That’s from a report released by the Tax Foundation on Tuesday. The state’s lack of corporate and individual income tax has kept in in first place since 2012.

Wyoming Director Tony Gagliardi is with the National Federation of Independent Business’. He says the state deserves only a cautious congratulation since some of Wyoming’s taxes are going up. For instance, fuel taxes have increased and that could hurt farmers and hauling companies.

Wyoming is one of the easiest places in the country to make money. That’s according to a report by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative advocacy nonprofit.

The report ranks states based on things like labor and tax policies. Report author Jonathan Williams says those factors can help predict job creation and other forms of economic growth.

“We find that … states that value competitiveness, lower taxes, and reasonable regulations are the states that are growing today,” Williams said.

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