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Eye On Boise

One idea they liked

Members of the Legislature’s interim committee on property taxes found one idea they really liked this morning – because it would help vulnerable seniors pay their property taxes without costing the state, counties, or other taxpayers a penny. The idea, hatched by committee staffer Jason Hancock, is to have the Idaho Housing and Finance Association pay the taxes for eligible seniors. Then, the taxes IHFA paid would accrue with interest as a lien against the home, to be paid off when the taxpayer dies. The lien, and any other liens on the home, couldn’t exceed 80 percent of equity.

Committee members ranging from Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star, a conservative, anti-tax Republican, to Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, a pro-education Democrat, spoke out in favor of the idea. “Of all the ideas we’ve talked about, this is one that could help these people, they could stay in their homes, and it would not cost the other taxpayers anything,” Moyle said. Sayler said, “It’s a worthy concept – I could support that.”

There’s less agreement about the thornier issues the panel addressed this morning, including local option taxes, development impact fees and more. At the committee’s last meeting, it adopted two recommendations to the Legislature: To expand the homeowner’s exemption to include the value of land, and to increase the “circuit breaker” exemption from property taxes for the elderly or disabled. There are still more than a dozen ideas on the committee’s list of proposals, and they’re scheduled to vote on all of them this afternoon, in the hopes that this will be their final meeting.

At the last meeting, there were three motions to replace the main school operations property tax levy with state funds – which would provide hundreds of millions in property tax relief, but likely would require raising the sales tax – but none of the three passed. That proposal is also up for discussion again this afternoon.

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Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.