A bill that would have given a $280 tax credit to Delawareans with a 2022 income of $35,000 or less blew up Tuesday in the House Revenue and Finance Committee.
Partly a victim of the end-of-the-year rush and partly a victim of not being written well, House Bill 393 will need to be reintroduced in January, when the 152nd session of the General Assembly convenes.
Bill Sponsor Rich Collins, R-Millsboro, said in introducing his bill that his intent was to help those with the lowest income.
However, he said, once he read the bill itself, he realized it wasn’t phrased correctly and also that he already knew there would have to be an amendment.
“The whole point of the bill is encourage people to work and get people who do work the same benefits that people who don’t work do,” Collins said. There are “lots of people who are working very, very hard and not making that much money and I’d like to see them get a break.”
Collins’ bill comes as the state expects to have another year with a nearly $1 billion surplus when making its 2023-24 budgets, which start July 1.
The state already has started issuing $300 surplus payments to 2021 taxpayers, and Collins said he wanted to spread the wealth.
If Collins’ bill passed, the fiscal note said it would cost the state $35.4 million to $45.9 million.
Collins noted that he had been told by the Department of Finance that it couldn’t support the bill as written, and Collins said he would support whatever amendment the department wanted to add.
A representative of the department testified that it could not retroactively do a means test and that the department already is involved in issuing the already-approved $300 checks to taxpayers. She suggested using an alternate source to determine income, such as the federal adjusted income as a basis, to simplify the process.
An attempt to table the bill didn’t work. But with no call to pass the bill, it failed in the committee.
Collins said he knew that the committee would not meet again this year to see another version of the bill, and that he hadn’t expected it to pass this year.
He also said he will introduce it in January.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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