kentucky voices

Ky. Voices: Knox County taxing Corbin unfairly

Occupational tax nets no return for businesses, workers

February 23, 2013 

Taxation without representation is not supposed to happen in America. But Knox County practices it against the Knox County section of Corbin.

Corbin businesses and employees pay a one percent occupational tax to the county. Knox County's fiscal court shares those taxes with the city of Barbourville. But Corbin gets zero from the occupational tax derived from inside its limits.

This has been going on for over 10 years and it is estimated that Corbin pays some $800,000 a year which is used totally by Knox County and the city of Barbourville. Over a 10-year period this is $8 million.

Corbin sits partially in Whitley County, which shares occupational taxes with the cities of Corbin and Williamsburg. That county gives the city 75 percent of the occupational taxes collected in the city. That is the same arrangement city officials want with Knox County, where 23 percent of Corbin's population lives.

Knox's unfair system has been kept in place with assistance from the current president of the Senate, Robert Stivers, who, in the 2012 session, wrote an amendment to a tax-amnesty bill to stop a lawsuit Corbin had filed to rectify this problem.

Knox County has suggested Corbin should pass an additional one percent occupational tax on businesses and employees in Corbin. That is a remedy for economic disaster. Corbin has refused to even consider imposing that penalty on local area businesses and workers. The city recently cut its business-license taxes to help and encourage businesses in our area.

During this economic problem period, businesses across the country have struggled. How could any smart county leader want to double the existing occupational taxes on businesses and employees?

That is the Knox County solution. Corbin's wise leaders want to protect their businesses and workers.

Mayor Willard McBurney is doing a great job leading the city. Our regional arena is making wonderful progress. Baptist Health Care's Regional facility provides first-class services. Corbin Independent School System ranks in the top 3 percent in academics in Kentucky and our middle school is number one. There are four colleges or universities within 18 miles of downtown Corbin, including an Eastern Kentucky University campus.

We have an abundance of water and energy and are located on I-75 with 40,000 vehicles passing by each day. And we are the gateway to Cumberland Falls State Park.

But it is hard to make future investments if some of the tax money is going to other cities.

When I was sworn in to the Marine Corps in 1955, it wasn't to protect this kind of system. It was to stand up for liberty and justice for all. There is no way you can call this justice. You cannot perfume this pig.

Bob Terrell lives in Corbin. Reach him at

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