Senate Passes GOP Agenda Item To Make Tax Code More Transparent

By Bill Hightower

On Wednesday, the Alabama State Senate passed Senate Bill 119, sponsored by Senator Bill Hightower (R-Mobile), a key part of the Republican Senate Caucus’s “Paving a Path for the Future” legislative agenda. SB119 protects taxpayer dollars and enhances government transparency by mandating the Legislative Fiscal Office produce an annual tax expenditure report detailing all tax incentives, exemptions, credits, and deductions in the prior tax year.

“The rationale for the tax expenditure report is to provide increased transparency to the public on how Montgomery is spending Alabamians’ hard-earned tax dollars,” said Senator Hightower. “Every year, state government gives away over $2 billion in incentives, credits, and exemptions; and there is not a singular place to go to gather necessary information. This legislation mandates a report to help solve that problem.”

SB119 would require the Legislative Fiscal Office to begin submitting the Tax Expenditure Report in 2017. The report will coincide with the Governor’s annual budget proposal to the Legislature, which happens at the beginning of each legislative session. The Tax Expenditure Report will serve legislators as they craft policy by detailing where exclusions to the tax code go each year. It will be made publicly available.

“Alabama’s tax code is a product of over sixty years of giving special interest groups credits, exemptions, and special incentives. The public often is unaware of these giveaways. With the Tax Expenditure Report, the public will be able to see this, and now be able to hold legislators accountable,” concluded Hightower.

National rankings show that Alabama has room to improve when it comes to tax and revenue policy transparency. SB119’s creation of the Tax Expenditure Report will improve transparency in state government and draw attention to Alabama as a great place to work and live.

“I commend Senator Hightower for his hard work on SB119,” said Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed. “It’s a key part of our ‘Paving a Path for the Future’ agenda, and will help make government more accountable to the people.”

Senator Bill Hightower is a Republican representing Mobile County in the Alabama State Senate. Follow Sen. Hightower on Twitter for the latest legislative updates: @hightower_bill