January 29, 2019
I look forward to sharing updates from my third week in Richmond with you. The beginning of tax season is upon us, and we are addressing the impacts of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).
The TCJA increased the federal standard deduction while at the same time suspending or limiting certain itemized deductions. Most of the TCJA changes to the individual provisions are temporary and will expire in tax year 2025.
As taxpayers, we always have to consider the best options for ourselves and our families when deciding whether to claim the federal standard deduction or itemize. Given the TCJA, we expect more Virginians to chose the federal standard deduction.
In Virginia, we historically favor conformity: taxpayers who claim the federal standard deduction are also required to claim the state standard deduction, which has not changed since 2005. This means about 26% of Virginians will receive refunds checks when filing their federal taxes by claiming the higher federal standard deduction but will pay more in state taxes when Virginia conforms to the federal tax code. This will result in about $600 million in additional revenue for Virginia.
Per the Virginia Department of Taxation, of those Virginians expected to pay more in state taxes as a result of TCJA, 40% make under $50K per year, 35% make $50K to $125K, and 24% make $125K to $250K. Further, those who make $50K to $125K are expected to have the largest actual percent increase in state tax bills.
Another option is to allow Virginians to take the federal standard deduction but itemize at the state level. However, we would then need to establish a new bureaucracy to audit those state tax returns, and this could be a costly route.
As you can see, this is a complicated issue and we are considering many options. I favor passing a clean conformity bill, which would allow Virginians to begin filing their taxes now, and finding a bipartisan solution that would allow us to return to taxpayers a portion of the additional revenue, save a portion of the funds, and invest a portion in priorities like increasing teacher pay.
I look forward to hearing from you about our tax policy and other issues important to you. Feel free to email me at DelKTran@house.virginia.gov.
House Bill 2792 passed out of a Commerce and Labor Subcommittee unanimously. This bill would establish a pilot program for counties, cities, and towns to get credit for excess green energy they produce on their buildings or land for electricity they use at other sites. Through the pilot, localities would save taxpayers’ money and be able to invest those savings into local priorities like education, infrastructure, or public safety. Equally importantly, they would be able to reduce their carbon footprint by using green energy. I am proud to have the support of the Virginia Association of Counties, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and Powered by Facts for this bill.
House Bill 2493 passed unanimously from a Health, Welfare, and Institutions Subcommittee. This bill would expand access to oral healthcare by increasing the responsibilities of remotely supervised dental hygienists to match those under general supervision. I am grateful for the support of the Virginia Dental Hygienists Association and the Virginia Dental Association.
House Bill 2589 passed out of an Education Subcommittee. There is increased demand among high school students for dual enrollment classes, which gives them an opportunity to earn college credit. The Fairfax County Public Schools Board Chair asked me to help increase flexibility for school boards to hire teachers for dual enrollment classes. This bill directs the Virginia Advisory Board on Teacher Education and Licensure to make recommendations on this issue, and it has the support of the Virginian Education Association, the Virginia Community College System, and the Virginia Association of School Superintendents.
I had four bills that were unfortunately defeated on a party-line vote. House Bill 2668 would have provided local school boards with the flexibility of hiring licensed behavior instructional analysts and licensed assistant behavior instructional analysts, key staff that can help students get ready to learn. I introduced this bill based on my conversations with many school principals in the 42nd District who raised the issue of having staff resources to support the emotional and mental well-being of our students.
House Bill 2495 would have helped save our birds and butterflies by protecting the fall cankerworm (a type of caterpillar), an important food source for birds and their young during their breeding and migratory season. I introduced this bill at the request of constituents and neighbors committed to protecting our wildlife, and it was special to have them attend and testify during the hearing. This bill was supported by the Sierra Club of Virginia, the Virginia Conservation Network, and the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia.
House Bill 2025 would have ensured immigrants, regardless of status, are able to obtain authorization to drive if they prove Virginia residency and pass the Department of Motor Vehicles knowledge, road, and vision test. It is important to ensure everyone driving on the road knows the rules of the road, and this bill would be a step forward to increase public safety in Virginia. I appreciate having the support of New Virginia Majority, the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, and others
Lastly,House Bill 2491 would have helped women make their own healthcare decisions in consultation with their doctors. I regrettably misspoke during the bill hearing, and there has been a lot of misinformation about this bill. To clarify: Infanticide is illegal in Virginia; I condemn those heinous acts and this bill would not have changed this part of the law. Third trimester abortions have been legal in Virginia since 1975, and this bill would have changed the requirement that three doctors certify a women’s health is at great risk to one doctor who certifies, in a more timely manner, that a woman’s physical and mental health is at risk. I encourage you to view my full video and written statements here.
I enjoyed meeting with more constituents and neighbors from Northern Virginia to talk about the issues that are important to them. If you would like to schedule a meeting or tour of the Capitol, please email me at DelKTran@house.virginia.gov or call 804-698-1042.
I had the honor of welcoming Cub Scout Pack 1683 and Girl Scout Troop 52033 and their parents to our state Capitol to the House of Delegates Chamber. Scouting continues to serve as a valuable leadership opportunity for many in our community, and I enjoyed meeting these Scouts and look forward to hearing about their bright futures.
I enjoyed meeting with constituents and members of Fairfax Education Association Retired to talk about ways our state can our strengthen public education system and ensure teachers are fairly compensated for their hard work.
Members of New Virginia Majority shared their personal stories with me about why it was important to raise the minimum wage. I appreciate the time they took to advocate for issues that support working families.
I talked about my legislative agenda with members of Fairfax Young Democrats as part of the Virginia Young Democrats Lobby Day in Richmond.
I also enjoyed meeting with other constituents who came to share their support for common sense gun safety policies.