Bill Description: House Bill 564 would facilitate the use of a new statewide database to track the homestead exemptions claimed by Idahoans.
Analyst Note: House Bill 564 is a companion bill to House Bill 548. House Bill 548 would create a statewide database of all homestead exemptions claimed in Idaho. House Bill 564 would require county governments to use that database to investigate every homeowner who claims the exemption.
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 traditionally handled at the county level.
House Bill 564 amends Section 63-602G, Idaho Code, to require that before a property owner receives a homestead exemption, "the county assessor shall investigate whether an applicant for the exemption has claimed the exemption for another homestead and shall not grant the exemption where it appears the exemption has been improperly claimed."
It further states that the state tax commission "shall" disclose information to a county assessor conducting the investigation mandated by the new language above. In this way, the state tax commission's new statewide database will be used to investigate every homeowner who claims the exemption.
In addition to the cost and expansion of government inherent in creating this statewide database, it is troubling that investigations would be launched preemptively rather than only in cases where there was evidence of wrongdoing.