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Vote YES to say NO

An election facing Texas voters on Nov. 5 has drawn a lot of attention on social media, with many criticizing its wording on the ballot as confusing.

The election is the amendment of Proposition 4, which would prohibit the state from levying an income tax on individuals if passed.

Since the amendment is to prohibit the income tax, voters will need to vote yes to vote against the tax.

A vote of no would oppose the amendment and keep Proposition 4’s current language.

Under Prop.4 as adopted in 1993 under state election, Texas voters can face a vote for the adoption of an income tax if the election is passed by a simple majority vote (more than 50 percent) in both the House and Senate. It would still need to be passed by voters in general election. (The current law also states that, if enacted, revenue from the the income tax should be dedicated to education and limiting local school tax rates.)

If voters approve the amendment in November, it could only be removed with another amendment passed by a 2/3 vote in both the House and Senate and approved by Texas voters.

For this amendment to get added to the Nov. 5 ballot, it needed 100 votes in the House and 21 votes in the Senate. It received 100 votes from State Representatives and 22 from Senators.

The narrow passage was reportedly due to concerns about the usage of the word “individual.”

Prior to the Senate approving the election, some Democratic senators questioned if the term would allow business attorneys to argue in court that corporations and business partnerships could qualify as individuals, thereby allowing their clients to opt out of the state franchise tax to which such entities are subject.

According to the Texas Comptroller’s office, the franchise tax will bring in an estimated $8 billion in revenue during 2020-2021 with a portion of this earmarked for funding public schools.

Senator Pat Fallon, who sponsored House Joint Resolution 38 on the senate side asserted that the proposal had nothing to do with the franchise tax and was only aimed at the income tax.

Some concerned lawmakers suggested the term “natural individual” to prevent the legal loophole. Fallon responded that it was not necessary as the terms were synonymous. (The new language would have resulted in the resolution going back to both branches for approval.)

The resolution was authored on the House side byRepublicanrepresentatives Jeff Leach (District 67), Will Metcalf (16), Dustin Burrows (83) and Briscoe Cain (128).

Texas is one of seven states without a state income tax. The others are Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming.

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