West Virginia House votes to overhaul sales tax

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – West Virginia’s House has narrowly voted to apply the state’s 6 percent sales tax to cell phone services, barbering and contractors and start cutting the overall tax rate in the middle of next year.

The bill approved 52-48 on Wednesday would cut the sales tax to 5.5 cents on a dollar in July 2018, drop it to 5.25 cents a year later and cut it to 4.75 cents two years after that depending on revenues.

Supporters say it’s fairer to eliminate exemptions and cut the overall rate for everyone, which should boost economic activity for the counties that border other states with higher rates.

Opponents say it’s an actual tax hike for currently exempt businesses and residents, expected to bring the state $140 million the first year.