Dank praises tax exemption tradeoff

State Rep. David Dank of Oklahoma City today (Tuesday, March 29) praised members of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee for trading a sales tax exemption he called “nonsense” for one that benefits the surviving spouses of disabled veterans.

 In an unusual move, Dank successfully urged the committee he chairs to remove a 2006 sales tax exemption granted to rock quarries and replace it with one that extends an existing sales tax exemption for 100-percent disabled veterans to their surviving unmarried spouses.

 “This was a victory for common sense,” Dank said. “I can’t recall a time when we tossed out one of those last-minute giveaway tax benefits that are simply nonsense and replaced it with one that makes real sense.”

 The rock quarry sales tax exemption was added to legislation in the closing hours of the 2006 special legislative session. Dank, a Republican, said a lobbyist apparently convinced a legislative leader to add the measure.

 “There was no reason for it,” he said. “It was simply one of those backroom giveaways. Why should rock quarries be exempt from sales taxes and not sandpits or brickyards?”

 Dank said the fiscal impact of the 2006 exemption for rock quarries was estimated at about $360,000. The impact of extending the existing sales tax exemption for disabled vets to their widows or widowers was set at some $400,000.

 “So I proposed a trade to the committee,” Dank said. “Dump this wasteful special interest tax break that does nothing for the average taxpayer and replace it with a benefit that recognizes and rewards families that gave so much in service to our country.”

 Dank said the rock quarry tax exemption is “just one more example of those last-minute deals written into the tax code to give special treatment for narrow special interests. It is why we need to move ahead with a complete examination of our tax code.”

 Dank’s amendment stripping the rock quarry sales tax exemption from law was added to the bill extending the exemption to vets’ survivors, which is sponsored by Sen. Don Barrington and Rep. Ann Coody, both Lawton Republicans. The amended bill now goes to the House Appropriations and Budget Committee for action.

 Concerning the proposal, Senator Barrington has said, “Providing the sales tax exemption to disabled veterans is our state’s way of honoring and recognizing their tremendous sacrifice to our country.  When these veterans die, it can put a financial burden on their spouses. Although they never fought in a war, these spouses made their own personal sacrifices during their loved ones’ years of service, and I think they have earned and deserve this small financial consideration.” 

 The Barrington-Coody measure has the support of leading Oklahoma organizations who advocate for military veterans.
Note: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.