Idaho Democrats have released a five-page legal opinion concluding that their property tax reform plan is constitutional – in response to continuing suggestions from Gov. Jim Risch that it’s not.
The Democrats want to eliminate the school operations property tax levy only for homeowners; Risch wants to eliminate it for all taxpayers, plus raise the sales tax. Only Risch’s proposal will be considered in a Friday special session of the Legislature.
Risch has been citing the state Constitution, saying the only way to give property tax relief is to give it to everyone. Article VII, Section 5 of the Constitution says, “All taxes shall be uniform upon the same class of subjects.” But the same section also says, “The legislature may allow such exemptions from taxation from time to time as shall seem necessary and just.”
C.A. Daw, a Boise attorney, expert in property tax law and former deputy attorney general for the Idaho Tax Commission, concluded that the Democratic plan creates an exemption, so it’s constitutional. State Democratic Party Chairman Richard Stallings said, “Gov. Risch is a lawyer, and by all accounts, a very good one. It is shameful that he would use the power of the governor’s office, invoking Idaho’s most cherished document, to mischaracterize the Democratic plan. It’s a crass use of power and he should apologize for misleading the people of Idaho.”
Waiting right now for Risch’s response…