Personal property tax by the numbers

I’ve written an in-depth look at personal property tax repeal — and its potential impact on public schools.

To whet your appetite a little, let’s have a little fun with personal property tax numbers.

The State Tax Commission conducted exhaustive research into the personal property tax, and its impact on Idaho’s 900-plus taxing districts.

The bottom line: Using the Tax Commission’s definitions of personal property (generally, business equipment and supplies, but the precise definition is open to interpretation), the personal property tax accounted for $38.6 million in K-12 funding in 2012. That puts public schools in roughly the same boat as counties (which collect $38.9 million in personal property taxes) and cities (which collect $33.4 million).

 

Which districts collect the most raw dollars from the personal property tax? Here’s the Top 10.

  1. Boise (District 1): $ 7,816,625.
  2. Meridian (District 2): $ 2,742,993.
  3. Lewiston (District 340): $2,402,693.
  4. Pocatello (District 25): $1,437,761.
  5. American Falls (District 381): $1,402,156.
  6. Idaho Falls (District 91): $ 1,389,381.
  7. Nampa (District 131): $1,200,636.
  8. Twin Falls (District 411): 1,045,755.
  9. Vallivue (District 139): $992,674.
  10. Lakeland (District 272): $943,822.

By and large, these are among the state’s larger school districts. One exception is American Falls (I’ll get back to that district later). The Boise and Lewiston numbers are inflated because both are charter districts; their charters, which predate statehood, afford them unique taxing authority. And that’s a sticky matter in the personal property tax debate — as I explore in my story.

 

Now, let’s look at another Top 10 : the districts that derive the largest percentage of property taxes from personal property:

  1. Richfield (District 316): 51.6 percent ($216,949).
  2. Soda Springs (District 150): 48.1 percent ($644,807).
  3. Mullan (District 392): 42.9 percent ($220,794).
  4. Glenns Ferry (District 192): 42.4 percent ($134,503).
  5. American Falls (District 381): 40.6 percent ($1,402,156).
  6. Dietrich (District 314): 35.2 percent ($41,256)
  7. North Gem (District 149): 35.1 percent ($106,632).
  8. New Plymouth (District 372): 34.6 percent ($162,374).
  9. Pleasant Valley (District 364): 32.4 percent ($3,052).
  10. Midvale (District 433): 30.7 percent ($3,997)

By and large, these are rural districts, heavily dependent on industry or manufacturing for their tax base.

And yes, one district has the dubious distinction of making both lists: American Falls. Not surprisingly, American Falls’ superintendent is watching this issue closely — and you can hear from him in my story.

 

But I can’t say I’m the first journalist to look at this corner of Idaho as a case study in the personal property tax debate. Molly Messick of StateImpact Idaho traveled to Power County recently — and her story is worth reading.