Subdivision developers in the state’s three most-populated counties would get a big property tax break, under legislation introduced Tuesday morning in the House Rev & Tax Committee. The bill “puts a legitimate process in place for developers to be assessed and taxed on lots they haven’t sold,” said Scott Turlington of Tamarack Resort, the bill’s sponsor. “They would be assessed at one-third of current value.”
That’s more than many lot owners at Tamarack are paying now, under a notorious tax loophole created in 2002 that’s become known as the “developer’s discount.” It gives developers and land speculators in rural areas a tax break originally designed for farmers, leaving owners of half-million-dollar lots paying less than $20 a year in taxes. But Turlington’s bill creates a new tax break, just for developers. “Let’s call it what it is,” he said.
North Idaho members of Rev & Tax were aghast when they read the bill that they’d earlier unanimously agreed to introduce without discussion, as committee Chair Dolores Crow, R-Nampa, told the panel it was merely a fix to an earlier bill. “I think that’s a terrible move – that goes against everything we’ve been trying to do for the taxpayers of Kootenai County,” said Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene. “I’m surprised that they would have the gall to do it.” Rep. Jim Clark, R-Hayden, said, “I can’t support that – it’s just that simple.”
The current “developer’s discount” doesn’t apply in counties with more than 100,000 population – that’s Kootenai, Ada and Canyon counties. It also applies only to land that once was farmed, and only in rural areas. All those restrictions are lifted in the new bill. “It seems to me that uniform application of state law is the way to go,” Turlington said. Want to know more? Read the full story in today’s Spokesman-Review.