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House Bill 548 — Elections, residence, tax exemption

House Bill 548 — Elections, residence, tax exemption

by
Parrish Miller
February 9, 2022
Parrish Miller
February 9, 2022

Bill Description: House Bill 548 would create a statewide database of all homestead exemptions claimed in Idaho.

Rating: -2

Does it create, expand, or enlarge any agency, board, program, function, or activity of government? Conversely, does it eliminate or curtail the size or scope of government?

Under current Idaho law, 50% of a homestead’s value or $125,000 (whichever is less) is exempted from property taxes. To qualify, the homestead must be "owner-occupied and used as the primary dwelling place of the owner." As this exemption relates to property taxes, it is handled at the county level. 

House Bill 548 amends Section 34-107, Idaho Code, to link this homestead exemption to voting. The bill adds language stating, "If a person claims an exemption under section 63-602G, Idaho Code, then the homestead for which the exemption is claimed shall be the person's residence for voting purposes."

The establishment of this link is troubling on its own, but the matter is compounded by the creation of Section 34-219, Idaho Code, stating that "Upon the request of a registered voter, the secretary of state or a county clerk shall investigate the legal qualifications of a candidate for office. ..." This section is ripe for abuse, as no proof or legitimate question is required to launch an investigation nor is there anything in the section to prohibit a single voter from requesting an investigation of every candidate on the ballot. 

House Bill 548 also amends Section 34-701, Idaho Code, to require that a candidate for office disclose "whether the person has claimed an exemption under section 63-602G, Idaho Code, and the address of any homestead for which such exemption is claimed by the person and, if married, the person's spouse."

Finally, House Bill 548 amends Section 63-602G, Idaho Code, to say that "by July 1, 2023, the state tax commission shall establish a database of all active exemptions claimed under this section, which database shall be searchable by a person's name and by the address of the homestead for which the exemption is claimed." This database will be made available to county assessors, boards of county commissioners, county clerks, county treasurers, and the secretary of state.

Creating this database and using  the homestead exemption as an enforcement mechanism for voter verification efforts represent an expansion of government. 

(-1)

Does it increase government spending (for objectionable purposes) or debt? Conversely, does it decrease government spending or debt?

The fiscal note for House Bill 548 says it will require "$10,000 - $20,000 to the general fund to set up the initial database."

(-1)

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