The floodgates may be opening on tax cutting measures at the capitol. A Senate tax panel approved two tax breaks and one tax increase on Wednesday (March 6).

SB 463 by Sen. Jim Hendren (R-Gravette) would exempt armed services personnel from Arkansas income taxes.

The bill would adversely impact state revenues by an estimated $7.2 million and would apply beginning in the current year.

With little discussion, Senators approved the measure, which now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

HB 1399 by Rep. Joe Farrar (R-Austin), would add a deduction for state income tax purposes for volunteer firefighters on reimbursements for the purchase of firefighting equipment or equipment lost in the course of fulfilling their firefighting duties.

Its estimated fiscal impact to the state would be around $48,000 annually. It also cleared the tax panel without dissent and heads to the full Senate.

SB 5 by Sen. Bill Sample (R-Hot Springs) raises an existing timberland tax from 15 cents to 20 cents per acre.

It would raise an estimated $700,000 annually for the Forestry Commission. State Forester Joe Fox said the money would allow his agency to purchase up to 3 new bulldozers to fight forest fires.

The Republican-controlled Senate Revenue & Tax committee also approved the measure without dissent or opposition from any special interest groups.

After the meeting, Senate Revenue and Tax Committee chairman Jake Files (R-Fort Smith) said he thought it was time to start allowing some tax cutting bills to be heard and make progress.

“In my mind, there’s not a number out there that we need to hit,” Files said.

He predicted a bill to give a tax break on sales taxes for manufacturers’ utilities would have wide support, as well as a sales tax break on replacement parts for manufacturing equipment.

“Those would be job creating and job stimulating bills,” Files said.

He said action on those items could happen within the next two weeks.

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Roby Brock
Roby Brock is the Editor-in-Chief and Host of Talk Business & Politics. He can be reached by e-mail at Roby@TalkBusiness.net. Follow him on Twitter: @RobyBrock.