House passes property tax relief bill

House passes property tax relief bill

by
Dustin Hurst
February 25, 2020
Dustin Hurst
Author Image
February 25, 2020

Taxpayers, help could soon be on the way. 

On Tuesday, the Idaho House of Representatives passed House Bill 409, a measure to freeze property tax budgets all for non-school taxing districts in Idaho. 

The bill cleared the House on a 46 to 23 vote, with several moderate Republicans joining all House Democrats to oppose the measure. 

Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Eagle, told his colleagues that the measure will pause property tax budget growth and provide relief to a good majority of homeowners, renters, and businesses. 

Research suggests that the measure could save Idahoans roughly $90 million in the next year. 

Rep. Tammy Nichols, R-Middleton, told House members that Idahoans are desperate for tax relief and that Moyle’s measure, while not a permanent fix, will give people a break from every-rising increases. 

“We represent the taxpayers,” Nichols asserted. “We don’t represent the cities or counties. We represent the taxpayers and the taxpayers need relief.”

Several lawmakers noted that the House committee hearing on the bill boasted a huge divide between taxpayers and local governments. Nearly every Idaho resident who testified on the bill spoke in favor of the property tax freeze legislation. Every single local government official who testified on the bill spoke against the bill. 

Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, testified against the legislation, saying some homeowners will still see tax hikes under the bill, as home value assessments will push taxes higher for many Idahoans. 

Rep. Ryan Kerby, R-New Plymouth, also spoke in opposition. Kerby told House members that the bill is too broad, and will harm those local governments that exercise frugality in budgeting and spending. 

Democrats took a different path to oppose the tax relief bill. Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, told House members that entities that don’t pay property taxes, including universities, cities, and nonprofit hospitals, ought to find ways to contribute to local property tax budgets. 

Gannon noted, Boise State University, the state of Idaho, Boise City, and two nonprofit hospitals have gobbled up lots of Ada County parcels in the last decade, which results in higher property taxes for homeowners and businesses. 

Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, slammed the Legislature for placing numerous unfunded mandates on local governments, which she said drive up property taxes. She also attacked the Legislature’s decision to provide income tax relief two years ago, which Rubel suggested led to underfunding of schools. That supposed underfunding, she complained, caused local schools to ask for more money through bonds and supplemental levies. 

House Bill 409 now heads to the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee for a hearing. That committee’s chairman, Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, is listed as a bill co-sponsor. 

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