Eye On Boise

Of ogres and tax credits...

Idaho House deliberates on Monday (Betsy Russell)
Idaho House deliberates on Monday (Betsy Russell)

Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, sponsored legislation in the House today to add Special Needs Recreation of Coeur d'Alene to the list of charities and youth rehab organizations to which donations are eligible for a tax credit. Nonini praised the group, which provides recreational opportunities to disabled people, and said, "They provide a hand up instead of a hand out."

Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, said, "This seems kind of specific to one group," to which Nonini responded, "This is a specific group in the five northern counties." Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, said, "I hate to be the ogre here, but this is an increase in tax credits. ... I've always opposed tax credits. They skew the tax system, they pay money out, it's not just a deduction. I guess this is a very honorable and credible cause, but to me, to keep piling on, and next year we'll have somebody else come in, and there doesn't ever seem to be an end to these tax credits. ... At some point we need to take a look at this whole thing."

Nonini responded, "I appreciate the gentleman being the ogre; at least someone else doesn't have to do it." The bill, HB 437, then passed on a 66-3 vote, with just Luker and Reps. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, and Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, voting no. The existing law names 14 specific charities plus several categories of charities as eligible for the tax credit; the credit is for half the amount of the donation up to $100 or 20 percent of the donor's income tax liability, whichever is less; those limits don't change with the addition of another organization. The bill now moves to the Senate.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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