Tennessee Senate advances nearly $2 billion business tax cut, refund to prevent lawsuit

The Tennessee Senate on Thursday approved a nearly $2 billion tax and refund for businesses, a proposal designed to prevent threats of a potential lawsuit even as critics warned the so-called solution was rushed without being properly vetted and shrouded in mystery.

Starting last fall, Republican legislative leaders say a law firm representing a large group of businesses contacted the state to question the legality of Tennessee’s 90-year-old franchise tax and demanded a refund. In response, Gov. Bill Lee initially proposed offering businesses $1.2 billion in refunds and then an ongoing $410 million in tax breaks.

That amount has since been tweaked to $1.56 billion in refunds and $393 million in tax breaks, totaling $1.95 billion.

“This bill will put this issue behind us and address it in a responsible way,” said Republican Sen. Ken Yager, adding that doing
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