The Idaho Chamber Alliance, an association of local chambers of commerce from across the state that’s holding its annual meeting in Boise this week, is pushing for legislation to lower Idaho’s income tax rates in a different way – by lowering not just the top rate of 7.4 percent, but also commensurately lowering taxes for those in every bracket. The chamber’s proposal would gradually phase in the decrease over five years, dropping the top rate from 7.4 percent to 6.85 percent; because all earners, not just the highest ones, would benefit, the cost is greater. The plan calls for lowering all rates 0.105 percentage points each year for five years, at a cost of about $24 million a year.
John Watts, lobbyist for the alliance, said he’s talked with House Speaker Scott Bedke about the proposal. But the bill’s not yet been introduced; it’s one of several pending proposals looking at ways to lower Idaho’s tax rates in the interest of economic development. “I’ve certainly given him my blessing to go get it drafted, whether or not I carry it,” Bedke said. He said the proposal is one of several in the mix to provide tax relief, including proposals to lower just the top rate; talks are ongoing. Bedke said, “A policy decision needs to be made there.”
The bill includes a “trigger,” delaying installments in the plan if state revenue drops that year. The statewide issues position statement from the chamber alliance for 2014 says, “The Idaho Chamber Alliance supports lower business and individual income tax rates to assist local area chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and the Idaho Department of Commerce in recruiting new business to Idaho and in supporting the retention and expansion of existing Idaho businesses. Lower income tax rates will position Idaho to be more competitive compared to surrounding states and stimulate a stronger economy.”