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Kentucky House Enacts Gross Receipts Tax Relief for Small Businesses

1 min readBy: Chris Atkins

On Monday, the Kentucky House of Representatives passed a bill that would exempt businesses from the state’s alternative gross receipts taxA gross receipts tax, also known as a turnover tax, is applied to a company’s gross sales, without deductions for a firm’s business expenses, like costs of goods sold and compensation. Unlike a sales tax, a gross receipts tax is assessed on businesses and apply to business-to-business transactions in addition to final consumer purchases, leading to tax pyramiding. if the business has less than $3 million in gross receipts. The bill would also reduce the state’s corporate income taxA corporate income tax (CIT) is levied by federal and state governments on business profits. Many companies are not subject to the CIT because they are taxed as pass-through businesses, with income reportable under the individual income tax. rate to 6 percent from the current rate of 7 percent.

As a result of a taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. plan enacted last year, Kentucky has an odd corporate tax system (see table here for some basic facts). Companies have to calculate their liability under both a corporate income tax and an alternative gross receipts tax–and pay the higher. A minimum assessment of $175 also applies.

The move by the Kentucky House comes as a result of complaints from small businesses about the unfairness of the alternative gross receipts tax. The complaints are typical based on what we know about gross receipts taxes: businesses have to pay regardless of profitability, and businesses with low margins are more severely impacted than businesses with high margins, compared to a net income system.

There is no doubt that another major complaint is the incredible revenue the new Kentucky corporate system is generating. According to reports, Kentucky’s corporate income tax revenues are up 150 percent this year ($758 million) versus last year ($302 million).

Based on the history of gross receipts taxes (or their equivalent) in other states, this move is not suprising. No state that has enacted a gross receipts tax has ever lived with it or failed to provide small business relief up front. In that respect, it will be interesting to see if neighboring Ohiowhich has a stand-alone gross receipts tax with an exemption of $1 million–will now move to increase its exemption.