UPDATE: W. Va. Senate OKs ending tax on Social Security benefits

Filling out tax forms, Photo Date: 2/9/2017 / Photo: U.S. Air Force / (MGN)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WTAP) - A bill to eliminate West Virginia personal income taxes on Social Security retirement benefits has been passed by the state Senate.

The Republican-led Senate voted 33-0 Thursday to approve the bill. The bill now returns to the House, which must consider Senate changes to phase in the elimination over three years.

Gov. Jim Justice proposed the cut in his State of the State speech.

If it becomes law, officials estimate it would mean a $50 million reduction in state revenue.

West Virginia is among 13 states that currently tax Social Security benefits. Surrounding states aren't among them.

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The House Finance Committee approved legislation Monday that would exempt Social Security benefits from West Virgina's state’s income tax.

Sponsors said House Bill 2001 would provide senior citizens an estimated $50 million in tax relief over the coming fiscal year. The bill now advance to the full House.

“This bill will provide our seniors with much-needed tax relief and give them greater financial security during their retirement years,” Finance Committee Chairman Eric Householder, R-Berkeley, said.

West Virginia is one of 13 states to tax Social Security income. This bill would exempt all Social Security income received on or after Jan. 1, 2019 from the state’s income tax.

“This bill is not just about providing tax relief, it’s also a matter of fundamental fairness,” Householder said. “The government took this money out of our hard-working citizens’ paychecks all their lives, and I think it’s wrong that we should tax it again when they finally reap the benefits. Ending this double-taxation on Social Security dollars will send a signal that West Virginia respects its taxpayers.”

Householder said Gov. Jim Justice had already factored the elimination of the Social Security income tax into his Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal, so lawmakers will not have to make up that revenue when they work to pass a budget later this year.