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Lawmakers won't consider adding more income tax brackets again this year

Delaware Public Media

Legislation adding higher tax rates for wealthier Delawareans is unlikely to get a floor vote again this year.

Delaware has a graduated income tax rate. It rises incrementally in brackets - until it reaches $60,000 when the rate tops out at 6.6 percent. That means people making $60,000 and $1 million pay that same top rate.

Under legislation sponsored by State Rep. John Kowalko (D-Newark), state would add a 7.1 percent bracket for people making more than $125,000 and a 7.85 tax for those earning $250,000 or more.

Kowalko said it’s only fair that people who make more money pay a higher tax rate.

“We as a government are responsible for providing services for those who have less," he said. "To do that, we have to have the revenue coming in consistently. It’s a sustainability issue too.”

Gov. John Carney (D) said he supports a higher top marginal rate and pushed for that two years ago, when the state had a shortfall. But he said the state has money right now and he opposes doing tax policy piecemeal.

“So basically the bottom line is that if we’re going to do tax reform and tax policy, we ought to do it in a comprehensive way when we need revenue,” he said.

The General Assembly failed to pass changes to the personal income tax in 2017, with the House falling one vote short of passage.

Kowalko said House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf  (D-Rehoboth Beach) denied his request for a floor vote.

Schwartzkopf says the state doesn’t need additional revenue this year. He adds that makes it difficult for lawmakers to vote on raising taxes.

But Kowalko said he’s been trying to pass a version of this legislation for the past decade, both when the state has been in the black and in the red.

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