Commissioner proposes payroll tax - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Commissioner proposes payroll tax

With more than a billion dollars in budget woes, Shelby County Government is searching for a new way fund operations.

John Willingham has a plan and he's meeting with Mayor A C Wharton to get his political support. But it's a long way from paper to policy.

It's been through 35-revisions over several years, but now Shelby County Commissioner John Willingham believes he has developed a Comprehensive Tax Burden Relief plan that tax-payers can swallow.

"There are some who will say, this is terrible this is terrible it's just another tax. And it will never go away like the wheel tax," said Willingham. "But I say if we can show the people that for once the wheel tax is going away, then maybe they can have confidence in government that's trying to do the right thing."

So here's the plan:

A 2.5-percent payroll tax that he says would generate $500 million a year.

If you make $100,000 a year, you would pay $2,500 in payroll tax.

Half of which Willingham says could be deducted from your federal income tax.

The Tax Burden Relief plan would abolish the hated wheel tax. Roll back the sales tax from 9.25 to 7 percent and roll back the property tax rate by nearly 25-percent from $4.04 to $3.00.

Action News Five asked John Willingham why he thought his payroll tax would fly, when just last year former City Councilor Janet Hook's payroll tax proposal was defeated by referendum.

"I don't think anyone in Memphis, Tenn., will ever allow any tax without a term limit written into the resolution or the ordinance, unless it has a time frame where it cuts off."

Under Willingham's plan the 2.5 percent tax would only last for 10 years, at that point people could vote on whether the tax should be kept in place.

Willingham says under his plan, the property tax and sales tax would remain fixed for the 10 years or until the payroll tax is abolished.

View Commissioner Willingham's plan.

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