2 firms submit bids to analyze tax code

The Legislature's tax-overhaul task force received two proposals by Monday's deadline from consultants seeking to assist the group, the director of the Bureau of Legislative Research said Monday.

PFM Group Consulting LLC of Philadelphia and WC Mitchell & Associates Inc. of North Little Rock submitted bids by the 4:30 p.m. deadline, said bureau Director Marty Garrity.

"We will begin tomorrow to determine if the bids submitted comply with the RFP requirements," Garrity said Monday in an email referring to the request for proposals.

"We also received a proposal for tax analysis software from Regional Economic Models Inc. [of Amherst, Mass.] This one is not responsive to the [request for proposals]," Garrity said.

The 16-member Tax Reform and Relief Task Force was created under Acts 78 and 79 during this year's regular session. The Legislature approved Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to cut individual income taxes for Arkansans with less than $21,000 in taxable income effective Jan. 1, 2019.

This plan is projected to reduce state general revenue by $25 million in fiscal year 2019 and $50 million each year thereafter.

The tax cut came after the Legislature in 2015 agreed to Hutchinson's proposal to cut individual income tax rates for Arkansans with taxable income between $21,000 and $75,000. That plan was projected to reduce state general revenue by $100 million in fiscal 2017 that ended June 30.

The task force was created in part to placate some lawmakers who favor larger income tax cuts, particularly for Arkansans with more than $75,000 in taxable income.

Hutchinson has said he wants to continue cutting individual income tax rates.

The task force is expected to present a preliminary report by Dec. 1 and recommend legislation for the General Assembly by September next year for enactment in the 2019 legislative session.

Task force co-chairman Sen. Jim Hendren, R-Sulphur Springs, said Monday that he had hoped for more proposals, but said the panel must still determine whether either consultant can provide what the group of legislators is seeking.

If the task force isn't comfortable with either consultant, it could advertise for proposals again, he said.

The task force wants to hire a consultant to provide the General Assembly information concerning the current state of tax laws and their impact in Arkansas, as well as recommendations for legislative changes "to modernize and simplify the tax code, make state tax laws competitive with other states in order to attract businesses to the state, create jobs within the state, and ensure fairness to all individuals and entities impacted by the tax laws" of the state, according to the bureau's request for proposals.

Hendren has said he hopes the consultant's cost will be less than the roughly $2 million that it cost for a consultant for the Legislature's health care task force because "we are not talking about something that is nearly as complicated as federally mandated programs like Medicaid and health care."

The bureau will evaluate the proposals until July 24 and release them to the task force that day, according to the request for proposals.

During its Aug. 4 meeting, the task force will select consultants to make presentations in person, in writing or both,, the bureau said. The presentations will be made to the task force on Aug. 11, when the group will decide which consultants it wants to award the contract to. The Legislative Council will consider the proposed contract on Aug. 18, the bureau said.

The task force's next meeting is today.

Metro on 07/11/2017

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