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Vice News: States Are Trying to Exempt Cops From Paying Taxes

Republicans in Georgia, Kentucky, and New Mexico have all introduced bills that would spare police from having to pay state taxes.

Taxpayers already foot the bill for police salaries. Now, several red states are considering exempting officers from paying their fair share back into the same system.

GeorgiaKentucky, and New Mexico Republicans introduced bills in January that would spare law enforcement officers from having to pay state taxes. Legislators in both states say the measures are meant to entice more people into the job, at a time when low morale among officers has boosted law enforcement retirements and resignations up 45 and 18 percent respectively, according to the Police Executive Research Forum.

But critics argue the plans ignore more practical solutions that could push the profession in a direction that civilians and cops can agree on and allow Republicans to cater to one of their most realiable voter bases. Taking an entire profession’s tax revenue away from state budgets could also hurt funding for programs and projects that are helpful to the public but less popular for lawmakers.

“You’re incentivizing the good officers, sure, but also the bad officers in the system who continue to make things worse by abusing their power,” said Whit Whitaker, President of the Lexington-Fayette NAACP in Kentucky. “The marginalized and disenfranchised communities are going to be even more in uproar because it’s going to feel like the profession is getting rewarded, regardless of how good or bad they are at their jobs.”

This year wouldn’t be the first time using taxes to incentivize cops has gained steam. In 2020, Missouri Republicans introduced a similar idea that eventually fizzled out in the state house. In that plan, the state would gradually reduce the tax rate by 25% for officers over four years, St. Louis Republican Rep. David Gregory, who introduced the plan in December 2020, told Fox affiliate WDAF-TV.