Republican Delegate Dave Albo has a big idea: extend Virginia’s corporate income tax to out-of-state companies that do business here, but aren’t physically located in Virginia. His goal? To raise hundreds of millions of dollars to shore-up the commonwealth’s transportation system. He’s got the bill drafted, co-sponsors lined up (Dels. Joe May and Tom Rust) and a winning attitude, telling the Washington Post that “’this is nirvana.’”

Mr. Albo also told the Post that his bill isn’t a tax increase…on Virginians. He’s also confident “‘every reasonable Republican’” will vote for his scheme, too.

This isn’t the first time Albo has sought to have someone else pay for Virginia’s roads. Back in 2007, Albo famously included the now-abolished abusive driving fees as part of a larger transportation bill that was, itself, later gutted by the state’s Supreme Court. Albo initially wanted the fees to apply to all drivers – in-state and out-of-state. But an amendment from then-Gov. Tim Kaine narrowed the scope to apply the fines solely to Virginia drivers. So fierce was the backlash to even this idea that in the next general election, Albo managed to win only 87 percent of the vote…while running unopposed.

So why is Albo trying again to “tax the man behind the tree?” He sees it as closing a loophole, and so much more. From his website we learn this:

 There is an actual disincentive for an out-of-state corporation to move jobs into Virginia because doing so subjects them to corporate income tax.  Under current law, they can extract money from Virginia businesses without paying corporate income tax.

So Albo’s tax nirvana isn’t just fair, closes a niggling loophole, and provides millions for roads, it might create jobs, too!

If Mr. Albo was at all serious about tax competitiveness, he would be working to abolish – not extend – Virginia’s corporate income tax. But that simple idea doesn’t mesh with his burning desire to stuff more money into a deeply dysfunctional VDOT.

And a word about Dels. Joe May and Tom Rust…if those names sound familiar to veterans of Virginia’s tax wars, there’s a reason: back in 2004, they were among the handful of Republicans who broke ranks to back the sales tax increase proposed by then-Gov. Mark Warner.

The tax hike passed and Republicans suffered for it.  Their House majority steadily waned until 2009’s elections finally restored their majority to health (the GOP lost control of the Senate in 2007…the same year as Albo’s abusive driver fee nonsense).

 If Albo, Rust and May are successful in this latest tax venture, the state’s GOP may again find itself having to deal with some unpleasant electoral fallout. Do they want to go down that path again? At least three members appear eager to get started.