Personal property tax repeal: the latest


The personal property tax parlor game took a new turn Thursday afternoon — with news that a bill may surface in the next few days.

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Gov. Butch Otter

The Associated Press reported that Gov. Butch Otter had finally floated a proposal for business groups, lawmakers and local governments to review. The plan, said AP, called for a six-year repeal.

From William Spence of the Lewiston Tribune:

“The final details are still being negotiated, but the bill would likely phase out the $141 million tax over six or seven years. Local taxing jurisdictions – including cities, counties and school districts – would be reimbursed for most of that revenue, but some of the burden could be shifted to real property owners.”

What “most” means, and how much tax burden is shifted, will be important details for more than 900 taxing entities, including public schools.

School districts collected some $38.6 million from the personal property tax in 2011-12, about 9 percent of property taxes collected by the schools. But the impacts vary widely.

The Boise School District collects some $7.8 million, tops among all districts. That’s because Boise, a charter school district, has unique property taxing authority.

For some smaller districts, the dollar figures are more modest, but the overall impact is more profound. Eight districts, generally in rural areas, derive more than a third of their property tax from the personal property tax. (Click here for my Jan. 31 story outlining the issue and the potential effect on schools.)

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Rep. Gary Collins, R-Nampa

“There’s those that think that’s the path we need to go,” House Revenue and Taxation Committee Chairman Gary Collins, R-Nampa, told Emilie Ritter Saunders of StateImpact Idaho. “I would say right at this time, there are probably more that say that isn’t the path to go.”

On Thursday morning, Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review blogged about this comment from Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee Chairman Jeff Siddoway — another rather vague diagnosis.

“The proposal is still alive,” Siddoway, R-Terreton, told Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee members. “I don’t know how well it is, but it’s still alive.”

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Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton

It all calls to mind the wounded knight from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” the one who’d tell everyone who’d listen that he wasn’t dead.

But then again, Siddoway’s remarks came before the news that Otter was floating a bill — a good six or seven hours earlier.