Several times each year, we put together a list of the states that are (or were recently) engaged in a review or study of their tax code. While these bodies go by different names—sometimes they're referred to as a “tax study committee” or a “commission,” or even a “task force” or “working group”—their aim is often the same: to review the way in which the state raises revenue, and to provide recommendations on how these mechanisms should be changed. As a result, these bodies often provide an opportunity for taxpayers to offer input on what's working in a state tax code and what could be improved.
We included a state if policymakers are taking a comprehensive look at the structure of their state's tax code as a whole in order to provide recommendations for reform (perhaps via a one-time special commission or via a standing interim legislative committee). We also included states where lawmakers were completing a study of the structure of one of the state's major revenue sources (such as property, income, or sales tax).
Here's the current state-by-state breakdown (note that a few states fall in multiple categories so numbers do not sum to 50):
10 states have tax study committees that are currently meeting;
5 states have study committees that recently finished (2 have released final reports and 3 have not);
7 states are expected to convene a study committee in the near future; and
31 states are currently not undertaking systemic studies or reviews of their tax codes or their major tax instruments.
The map below shows which states are currently undertaking a tax study. Detailed information on each of these is included below the map. Did we miss a state? If so, please let us know!
Joint Legislative Task Force on Budget Reform
Description: The Joint Legislative Task Force on Budget Reform was created by Alabama HJR 62 with the intent “to examine the structure and design of the state budgeting process and make recommendations for long-term budget and tax system reforms.” The three tax-related items to be examined include (1) “unearmarking funds in order to provide for greater legislative oversight and appropriating flexibility;” (2) “reviewing existing state tax credits, deductions, and exemptions that result in the loss of approximately $4.5 billion in revenue to [the] state budgets each year, and creating a policy to ensure that future tax credits effectively provide economic gain to the state;” and (3) identifying areas to provide tax relief to Alabama families without significantly impacting state budgets.” Other tax items may also be considered as the Task Force progresses.
Status: The legislature filed HJR 5 and SJR 52 to extend the Joint Legislative Task Force on Budget Reform until the fifth legislative day of the 2018 session in order to allow more time to continue their work (originally, the Task Force was intended to release recommendations by the fifth day of the 2017 session). The Business Council of Alabama reported in February that the Task Force is expected to release an interim report sometime soon (it was originally reported that this would be released in February, but we haven't seen anything yet). The Task Force is expected to work into the summer months.
Arkansas Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force
Description: In February 2017, Arkansas SB 115 and HB 1159 (Section 3) were enacted. In addition to cutting personal income taxes for certain individuals, the legislation also created the Arkansas Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force. According to the bill text, “The purpose of the task force is to examine and identify areas of potential reform within the tax laws of the State of Arkansas and to recommend legislation to the General Assembly for consideration during the 2019 regular session in order to: modernize and simplify the Arkansas tax code; make the Arkansas tax laws competitive with other states in order to attract businesses to the state; create jobs for Arkansasans; and ensure fairness to all individuals and entities impacted by the tax laws of the State of Arkansas. “
Status: The Task Force must hold its first meeting within 30 days of the 2017 general session's adjournment date and must hold meetings at least once every two months. Members of the Task Force were announced by the House Speaker on May 8, 2017. A preliminary report of the Task Force must completed by December 1, 2017, and the final report is due September 1, 2018.
Description: The Commission on Economic Competitiveness began meeting in September 2015 and is intended to: “analyze the implications of state tax policy on state business and industry and to develop policies that promote economic growth. In addition, the commission shall: (1) Examine and report on the implications of the tax revisions set forth in public act 15-244, as amended by this act, on state business and industry; (2) examine the needs of large and small state businesses and industries as relates to their ability to maintain economic competitiveness; and (3) offer legislative recommendations that promote the growth and prosperity of state business and industry, including, but not limited to, recommendations relating to state tax policy.”
Status: The Commission's latest meeting in February did not cover tax reform rather it focused on reforms to Connecticut Health Data Collaborative (CHDC). At the November meeting, however, each commission member placed tax reform as one of his or her top three prioritizes. Members concerns ranged from reducing Connecticut's tax rate to attract businesses back to the state to increasing tax expenditure transparency. There was also a bill this year (HB 7320) addressing this same commission. It establishes January 1, 2018 as the deadline for the Commission to release a report.
Resources: Website (includes agendas and meeting handouts)
Sales Tax Streamlining and Modernization Commission
Description: The Sales Tax Streamlining and Modernization Commissionwas created to comprehensively study the state and local sales tax system in Louisiana. The Commission is authorized to run through 2017.
Status: The Commission recently met on March 15 where it reviewed current sales and use tax exclusions and exemptions, but has not made plans to release final recommendations, originally scheduled for March 28. The Commission has agreed on recommending the state unify all but 14 types of purchases that are taxed on the local level but are exempt from sales taxes at the state level. Chairwoman Julie Stokes has indicated she intends to introduce a bill that would create uniform sales tax rates across the board.
Resources: Website (includes agendas and meeting handouts)
Study Commission on State Tax Policy
Description: The Study Commission on State Tax Policywas directed to “examin[e] Missouri’s tax system to identify its strengths and weaknesses and to provide any recommendations for improvement,” according to the authorizing legislation (SB 15 and HB 384).
Status: The Commission released a preliminary report where separate task forces reported their current focus and activities. According to the report, the Commission “present[s] the information received from various sources, and some of our observations, but make no formal recommendations. During 2017, Commission members will continue to receive additional information, deliberate tax policy issues, and finish the Commission's work with a final report and formal recommendations.” Final recommendations are due by the close of 2017.
Description: The 2020 Tax Policy Study Commissionwas created as part of the budget bill signed in July 2015. According to news coverage, the Commission “is charged with reviewing Ohio’s tax structure and policies and making recommendations on how to maximize the state’s competitiveness by 2020.” It is directed to specifically look at severance taxes and flattening the income tax.
Status: There is little information on whether the Commission is still currently meeting, but some recommendations were released in January 2016. A report on the effectiveness of the historic rehabilitation tax credit and whether to make the credit refundable or to create a grant program was suppose to be submitted by October 2016. Final recommendations to move to a flat income tax are due before October 17, 2017.
Description: According to coverage by the Oregon School Boards Association, the Committee grew “out of an informal group that had been discussing revenue options. The committee is tasked with reforming Oregon’s corporate tax structure and providing options that would increase state revenues. The tax reform group is one of five groups meeting to work on addressing the $1.6 billion state budget shortfall. There is also a PERS reform group, hospital provider tax group, comprehensive transportation package group and cost containment group.”
Status: The Committee began meeting in early May and has already met four times, with two more meetings scheduled this week. According to the Bend Chamber, “the committee plans to hold public hearings, but at this point there is no formal proposal to present. It’s probably unrealistic to expect the committee to develop a long-term tax reform plan that could earn the support of Legislators and voters in the 2½ months remaining in the 2017 Session. But, if nothing else, its creation is a procedural move that could help streamline negotiations necessary to adopt a 2017-19 budget.” There is no formal timeline or plan at this time, but the framework for a gross receipts tax was already presented to the Committee by House Democrats.
Resources: Website (includes agendas and meeting handouts)
Description: The House Tax Policy Review Committee was created to examine the state's three major taxes (property, income, and sales). According to the House Speaker, South Carolina's tax code is “outdated” and “needs a dramatic transformation in order to promote economic competitiveness and increase the size of our citizens’ paychecks.”
Status: The Committee has been meeting since August 2016, with meetings continuing through January 2017. It was expected to meet again in March; however, no information has been released on an additional meeting. The Committee expressed at their November 2016 meeting interest in introducing tax reform legislation as opposed to publishing a final report.
Joint Select Committee on Tax Reform (Interim Committee) and Senate Select Committee on Tax Reform
Description: The Joint Select Committee on Tax ReformInterim Committee met in 2015 and continued work in 2016 to study the state’s tax code comprehensively. In January, the Senate convened their own Select Committee on Tax Reform. We combined these two committees in our discussion since one is a continuation of the other.
Status: There is little information on if a final report will be issued by the Joint Committee; however, they held a meeting in January on the “Realities of Business Personal Property Tax on Oil and Gas Industry.” The Senate Committee, however, has actively pursued legislation during the state's 2017 legislative session (and subsequent special session). The committee met throughout February and March.
Description: Wyoming's standing Joint Revenue Interim Committee selected topics to study during the interim period. The Committee's top priority is “Wyoming tax structure and revenue streams,” and the second priority is gross receipts taxation. The Committee will also study other more specific tax topics. Legislation could result from the study of these topics.
Status: The Committee held its first meeting on May 11 and 12, and has three more meetings planned for the remainder of the year.
Description: The Commission on Earmarking & Budget Reform was created in May 2015 by the House Speaker with the goal of studying the general budget system and addressing the degree of earmarking within the state budget.
Status: There is little information on any updates from this commission, and it's unclear if it ever had meetings or released recommendations. Since there hasn't been news in several months, we are marking this as finished.
Interim Senate Tax Relief Committee
Description: The Interim Senate Tax Relief Committeewas created as a result of legislation passed in the 2016 special legislative session. Alabama SR 20 indicates that “it is incumbent upon Alabama's leaders to find tax relief that will have a broad impact on Alabama families and to constantly strive to create a tax system that does not pick winners and losers.”
Status: There is little information on any updates from this commission. Since this was an interim committee, we are marking this as finished. No final report has been issued.
Description: The Special Joint Committee on Revenue Structure was created as a part of Georgia’s 2015 transportation bill. It was intended to meet during the 2016 session to draft tax reform legislation. More specifically, the bill dictated that the Committee would “[introduce] in the House of Representatives one or more bills or resolutions relating to tax reform.”
Status: There is little information on any updates from this commission. No report has been issued at this time. Since it appears that no members were ever selected for this committee and no meetings appear to have taken place, we are marking it as finished.
Task Force on Structural Changes in Budget and Tax Policy
Description: The Task Force on Structural Changes in Budget and Tax Policy was created during a special session in 2016 with the goal of making “recommendations of changes to the state's tax laws in an effort to modernize and enhance the efficiency and fairness of the state's tax policies for individuals and businesses, to examine the structure and design of the state budget and make recommendations for long-term budgeting reforms."
Status: The Task Force issued its final report at the end of January 2017. Key recommendations included an expansion of the sales tax to certain services, a sales tax rate reduction, elimination of the state deduction for federal income taxes paid, and elimination or phase out of the state corporate income tax. In March, Governor John Bel Edwards' administration released their proposal, the 2017 Budget Stabilization Plan, which incorporated elements from the Task Force's recommendations while replacing the corporate income tax for a gross receipts tax. However, the Advocate reported that “after months of study by a blue-ribbon panel commissioned to recommend tax overhaul ideas, Louisiana’s lawmakers are on track to reject most of the big-ticket concepts, sending the suggestions to the same dustbin as past studies... Several of the main proposals have been killed outright, while others haven’t even gotten a hearing as bill sponsors realized they’re unlikely to gain traction.”
Tax and Budget Review Committees (also known as the Tax Policy Panel)
Description: The Tax Policy Panel within the Tax and Budget Review Committees will “review the state’s current tax structure and make recommendations for consideration during the legislative session. The goal is to create tax policy that encourages long-term economic growth and job creation.”
Status: There is little information on any updates from this commission and it is unclear if the panel is still meeting, or if it has or will release final recommendations. Therefore, we are marking this as finished.
Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform & Relief
Description: The Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform & Relief was created to “study the property tax process, including the appraisal system, and recommend ways to promote transparency, simplicity, and accountability by all taxing entities” and “examine and develop options to further reduce the tax burden on property owners.”
Status: The Committee released an interim report providing a list of recommendations to reforming the property tax process at the state and local levels and made recommendations to the legislature. This resulted in SB 2, which has passed the Senate and is currently in the House (the Texas legislature adjourns at the end of May).
Description: During this year's legislative session, HB 1216 was passed by both chambers and now awaits gubernatorial action (the governor has until early June to act on the bill). It creates the Sales and Use Tax Simplification Tax Force that will address sales tax administration issues. According to the legislation, the Task Force will “study sales and use tax simplification between the state and local governments, including home rule municipalities, to identify opportunities and challenges within existing fiscal frameworks to adopt innovative revenue-neutral solutions that do not require constitutional amendments or voter approval.” Further, “the Task Force shall consider the feasibility of (I) having a third-party entity responsible for state or local sales and use tax administration, return processing, and audits; (II) making audits of retailers more uniform for all state and local taxing jurisdictions in the state; (III) utilization of certified software for sales and use tax administration and collection of state and local sales and use tax; and (IV) utilization of a single sales and use tax return for state and local taxing jurisdictions.”
Status: If the governor approves the bill, the Task Force is required to meet at least eight times and will allow for public testimony. The first two meetings must be on or before July 12, 2017. A final report must be issued no later than November 1, 2017 (the Task Force is authorized for three years and will make annual reports).
Study to be conducted by Indiana Legislative Services
Description: Indiana enacted SB 515 during this year's legislative session. Section 34(b) of the bill dictates that “the legislative services agency shall conduct a study concerning the correlation between employment growth and the statutory tax relief realized by C corporations during the period 2011 through 2016.”
Status: The bill was just signed by the governor at the end of April. A final report is due by October 1, 2017.
Description: During his State of the State speech, Governor Matt Bevin (R) signaled his intent to reform the state's tax system. The governor has retained outside legal expertise to help him craft his plan, which is expected to represent a tax increase overall, with much of the focus of discussion having been on evaluating existing tax exemptions and deductions, especially with regard to the sales tax. Income tax rates are likely to be targeted for reduction as part of the broader reform. The governor is expected to roll out his proposal in late summer or early fall, with a special session anticipated in October or November.
Status: A draft report is due by July 31, 2017 and a final report is due by September 30, 2017.
Description: In January, the Governor signed an Executive Order to establish the Committee for Simple, Fair, and Low Taxes. It dictates that the Committee's goals are to: “compare Missouri 's tax credit programs and its tax rates to those of its peer states; assess the economic impact of existing state tax credit programs; [and] assess the possibility of financing cuts to overall state tax rates with cuts to tax credit programs.”
Status: The Committee must “recommend comprehensive tax reform legislation” by June 30, 2017 after holding at least four town hall meetings. The first town hall meeting scheduled for May 17.
New York City Tax Reform Study Commission (Real Property Tax) Note: While this is not a state tax, we decided to include this Commission since the NYC property tax impacts many businesses operating in the state.
Description: Legislation establishing a tax reform study commission to examine real property taxes in New York City and to provide recommendations for reform has passed the Senate (SB 1379). Similar legislation has been introduced in the House (AB 6594 and AB 6618, which is the companion to SB 1379).
Status: If the bill is enacted, final reform recommendations are due by January 1, 2019.
Description: Legislation (HB 1856) has passed both chambers that creates the Task Force for the Study of the Oklahoma Tax Code. According to the bill, “the purpose of the Task Force shall be to conduct a comprehensive study of the Oklahoma Tax Code to include, but not limited to: (1) a review of all potential sustainable revenue streams which could be made available to different levels of government; (2) a review of all potential sustainable budget cuts which could be implemented by the different levels of government; and (3) such other matters related to tax as the Task Force deems relevant.”
Status: The bill has passed both legislation chambers and now awaits gubernatorial action. If the bill is enacted, the group must have its first meeting by September 30, 2017 and final recommendations are due by December 1, 2018.
Description: After the 2017 legislative session, Utah lawmakers selected topics to study during the interim period. According to the Salt Lake Chamber, “the legislature...has tasked the Interim Revenue and Taxation Committee with developing a roadmap for reform that will include monthly meetings and three additional full days on tax reform.” The
Status: The first Revenue and Taxation meeting is scheduled for Mary 17. Meetings are scheduled for the remainder of the year and finish on November 15.
No Study/Review Committees or Commissions (As of May 15, 2017)
If we missed a formal tax study/review committee or commission in one of these states, please let us know.
Illinois | Note: In our last edition, we had included the School Funding Reform Commission, which focused on school funding since we anticipated it may include recommendations to increase tax revenue to fund education (perhaps property tax). The Commission ended up not making any tax-related recommendations (if interested, please see Website and Final Report).
Minnesota | Note: there are two bills in the legislature (HF 2114 and HF 2426) that would create legislative property tax reform task forces. Neither bill has advanced at this time. There was also a provision in the tax omnibus bill (HF 4) that contained the creation of a similar task force, but that section was pulled from the current version.
Nebraska | Note: there is a bill (LR 161) that requires the Revenue Committee to conduce an interim study of the “structure and administration of, and compliance with, state individual and corporate income taxes, including financial institution and insurance premium taxes.” This bill has not advanced (the session ends at the beginning of June).
Nevada | Note: news coverage has indicated that action will likely occur this session on property taxes, “even if only to form an interim study committee to look at the issue.”
New Jersey | Note: there are two bills in the legislature that would study the state tax code (ACR 191 and ACR 541), but neither have advanced at this time.
Rhode Island | Note: there is a bill (HR 6127) that would create a commission to study a reduction of the sales tax (bill has not advanced).
Vermont | Note: H 868 included a provision that directed the Joint Fiscal Office to conduct a 10-year study of the state tax system, but this was not a study that included any recommendations for reform so we did not include it in our list of study committees.