Eight property tax relief bills just passed the House after a debate lasting more than three hours, including a 50 percent increase in the homeowner’s exemption, shifting half of school operations funding off the property tax, and raising the sales tax by half a penny to help make up the difference.
House Tax Chair Dolores Crow, R-Nampa, called the bills the “cream of the crop” of the more than 35 property tax bills her committee debated this year. The bills now move to the Senate, where they’ll first go through committee hearings. Here’s what happened:
HB 422, a proposal from an interim legislative committee to increase the “circuit breaker” tax break for the low-income elderly and disabled, passed 69-0. The income threshold would rise to $28,000, and the maximum benefit would rise from $1,200 to $1,320.
HB 421, a proposal from the interim committee to increase the homeowner’s exemption to $75,000, count land in the value and index it to inflation in the future, passed 69-1, with just Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, voting no.
HB 676, to eliminate a notorious tax loophole that allows some developers and land speculators in rural areas to pay just pennies in taxes on high-value rural development land, passed 69-0.
HB 508, a proposal by Rep. Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly, to let taxing districts exclude only half the value of newly annexed property from their 3 percent cap on budget growth, rather than the full amount as now, passed 42-27. Among those objecting was Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, who said the measure would keep growth from paying for itself – and pass the costs of growth on to existing residents.
HB 678, also by Roberts, to shift half of school operations funding off the property tax and onto the state general fund, passed 52-17.
HB 679, also by Roberts, to raise the sales tax by half a penny to partially offset that shift, passed on the closest vote of all, 37-30.
HB 680, a new version of a proposal from Gov. Dirk Kempthorne to set up a state-funded deferral program to allow some low-income elderly homeowners to defer paying property taxes until after they die or sell their home, passed 67-2.
HB 480AA, a proposal by Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star, to allow local voters, with 2/3 approval, to order local governments to cut their budgets, passed 62-7.